As young as 8 years old Shawn was interested in the Army and after 9/11 even at that young age he was determined to be a soldier. He joined the Army as a junior in high school in September of 2006 and completed boot camp at Fort Benning, Georgia the summer before his senior year. His teachers tell of his striving to be the best he could be. He ran track to bring up his speed and endurance so he'd be a better soldier. He loved to practice his airsoft rifle skills and wrestling moves on his younger brothers while growing up. After boot camp he was assigned to Fort Riley, Kansas - then on to Fort Drum in May of 2010 where he would remain. He was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from March 2011 to March 2012. Once again Shawn was deployed with his unit in November 2013 to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
On April 28 2014 Shawn was killed in action, in Nejrab District, Kapisa province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire. He was brought to Stewart Air Force Base where he was escorted home by The Patriot Riders and Rolling Thunder and a sad and grateful community that lined the roads waving flags and saluting veterans. Every over pass had a fire company at attention and an American flag flying.
Inside a skating rink where Shawn liked to hang out, more than 1,000 mourners filed past his casket. They came to honor and remember Shawn.
Sgt. First Class Michael Mazingo, Shawn's commanding officer, told a story about catching Shawn wearing a Batman belt with his Army uniform, "I don't know how to tell you this, sergeant, but I'm Batman," Mazingo said Farrell explained to him. The funeral audience burst out laughing. Shawn's friends wore Batman buttons, belts and bow ties at the service. A Batman symbol made of flowers sat by the casket along with numerous medals and the soldier's boots, helmet and rifles.
"Heroes are not in comic books," said the Rev. James Hallenbeck. "They're all around us. They are our friends, they are our neighbors. They have given their lives. Shawnie was my hero."
Both the funeral and the burial at nearby Krumville Cemetery were held with full military honors.
One year after veterans lined the road and saluted as the hearse carrying Sgt. Shawn M. Farrell II entered Krumville Cemetery in Accord, his Family returned to Fort Drum to attend a ceremony, in which leaders of 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), and members of Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 3112 presented Farrell’s wife, Allison, and mother, Heather Stokes, with a Bronze Star Medal with “V” device on Shawn's behalf.
The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to members of all branches of the military service, and it may be awarded for either combat heroism or meritorious service.
The “V” device represents valor. It is worn to denote participation in acts of heroism involving conflict with an armed enemy.
Shawn distinguished himself on April 28, 2014, when his element came under heavy rocket and small-arms fire from a numerically superior enemy force with multiple fighting positions in Kapisa Province, Afghanistan.
Shawn assumed his position in the heart of the enemy neutralization zone and delivered accurate, devastating, suppressive fire. Although fatally wounded, he continued to provide covering fire and inspired his element to take the fight to the enemy.
“Units have mottos that get stated and repeated constantly,” Capt. Travis Boudreau, former commander of A Company, 1-32 Infantry, said during the ceremony. “Chosin’s motto is ‘Against All Odds!’ Attack’s motto is ‘Victory to the Bold!’ ODA Team 3112’s motto is ‘All in!’ “I would like to say that Sgt. Farrell embodied all of the principles that these mottos represented, but I can’t. He embodied something greater.”
Boudreau continued on to say that “(Farrell) unflinchingly faced withering danger and his imminent mortality because he knew that as a member of that team, his actions at that critical moment affected more than himself. His decision to forget himself and face that danger ultimately led to the eventual redeployment of all of his fellow Soldiers.”
Farrell’s actions were instrumental in gaining fire superiority that eventually routed the enemy from the area and saved the lives of his teammates. His actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military heroism and reflect distinct credit upon himself, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, the Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, and the United States Army.
Members of ODA Team 3112 who were there with Shawn on that fateful day wanted to take time to remember him and the impact he had on them, saying “we’re here to honor valor and remember his sacrifice. Facing the enemy, after hours of intense combat, Sgt. Farrell left this earth with three final words: ‘I got him.’”
“Everyone in this room knows that not all 10th Mountain Division fighters are created equal; all Special Forces operators are not created equal; unfortunately, some falter in the face of fear and adversity, and some rise to the occasion,” said the Special Forces team leader, ODA Team 3112. “Sgt. Shawn Farrell will always be remembered as one who stood out, and he will remain an inspiration to his brothers in his infantry squad and platoon, and on Special Forces Operational Detachment 3112.”
The final speaker during the ceremony was a member of the vehicle for which Farrell served as the gunner: Special Forces assistant team leader, ODA Team 3112. “April 28th is a day that I won’t ever forget. Shawn Farrell was a gunner on my truck. The day that firefight started he went down in a blaze of gunfire like all warriors want to,” the SF assistant team leader said emotionally. “He didn’t falter, he didn’t quit; and we are here because of that. We use words like bravery, honor, integrity (and) valor. Shawn stood for all of them, and it showed.” “Let’s honor his life. Let’s live every day as if it’s our last, and don’t let his death be in vain,” he implored. “We’re going to do one more pushup, we’re going to do one more pullup and we’re going to run one more mile. We’re going to do that for Shawn, because that’s what he would have wanted.”
Shawn's awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, two Army Achievement Medals, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, two Afghanistan Campaign Medals, the Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge, and the Air Assault Badge. He completed the Warrior Leader Course, the Combat Life Savers Course and the Air Assault Course.
Our warrior, our hero, our son, grandson, brother, husband, nephew and uncle. May his memory live on and may his heroism on that day never be forgotten.