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Army Pvt. Shane M. Stinson, 23, Fullerton; among 3 killed in Baghdad

August 12, 2007|Joel Rubin | Times Staff Writer

Like any true-blooded Southern California kid, Shane Mikel Stinson loved the beach.

So in late May, when he came home to Fullerton for a break from his tour of duty in Iraq, the Army private spent more than a few days lounging with his girlfriend and buddies on the Pacific shore.

It was as if he was trying to soak up a little sun and salt air to remind him of a better place during those inevitable, bad days back in Iraq, where, his mother said, he missed the ocean more than anything.

Within weeks of returning to war, Stinson was dead, killed in the streets of Baghdad.

He and two other soldiers in his unit died June 23 of wounds they suffered when insurgents attacked them with an improvised explosive device and small-arms fire, according to the military.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, August 15, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part Page News Desk 1 inches; 32 words Type of Material: Correction
Military obituary: The obituary in Sunday's California section of Shane Stinson, an Army soldier killed in action while serving in Iraq, said he was a private. He was a private first class.

The soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Ft. Benning, Ga.

Stinson, 23, had surprised his mother, Evelyn, when he told her that he was enlisting in the Army. He had always been a gentle kid, "a bit of a mama's boy," who grew very close to his mother and brother, she said.

"I told him, 'This is a bad time, we're at war,' but this is what he decided he wanted to do," she said. "He was so very, very shy, and he went off and became such a courageous thing. I don't understand. Part of it was he wanted to become a man, but also I think he really wanted to help people."

A high school dropout who had left school in order to take odd jobs that helped his mother pay the bills, Stinson earned his general equivalency diploma in order to enlist.

When Stinson returned home for his short respite, his mother said she noticed how much he had matured after only a few months in Iraq, adding, "Everything was 'Yes, ma'am' and 'No ma'am.' "

He spoke to her at length of his conviction that most Iraqis welcomed and needed the work that he and other soldiers were doing. And he told her that seeing homeless women cradling their children in the streets made him appreciate his family's humble lifestyle.

Stinson, however, never told her of the "other things" about life as a soldier at war, not wanting to worry her.

"He felt like he was doing something worthwhile," his mother said.

Indeed, many others thought so as well. At his funeral in early July at a cemetery chapel in Cypress, so many family members, friends and strangers attended that they spilled out the door.

Stinson was a sports fanatic, catching a few games of his favorite baseball team, the Angels, while at home. In high school, he played golf and basketball and was the quarterback of the football team.

When he left the military, he dreamed he would open a sports equipment shop -- not too far from the ocean.

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