With Veterans Day approaching, it’s important to reflect on the contributions and sacrifices our troops have made, and are still making. To be a veteran is to be a warrior: courageous, brave, dignified, and unwaveringly strong. This nation’s core of veterans has seen catastrophic tragedies through the perils of both World Wars, Vietnam, Korea, the Gulf War, and most recently, Iraq. Our veterans have shown an inimitable resolve in their mission to protect our country; some have lived through their fight, while countless others have died. Either way, their heroism is bred in perpetuity and there can never be enough homage paid.
All too often, veterans are stereotyped as old, retired geriatrics, and are rarely considered as young adults. I happen to know several people that have done tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan that are all under the age of 30. One in particular--a high school friend of mine--was a 19 year old veteran that never got the chance to make it out of Iraq alive.
Lance Corporal Shayne Cabino, of Canton, MA, was 19 years old when he was killed in action in Operation Iraqi Freedom. A member of the Marine Corps, Shayne was part of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment of the Marine Expeditionary Force based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Base spokesman, Lieutenant Barry Edwards, spoke of the Battalion’s mission objectives on the fateful day of October 6th, 2005: ''They were training and working alongside the Iraqi security forces to deny insurgents access to and from developing strongholds around the city.”
Shayne, a mortarman, was responsible for operating the 81mm mortar when he was killed by a makeshift bomb near the city of Karmah. Also killed in the attack were Corporal Nicholas O. Cherava, 21, of Ontonagon, Michigan; Lance Corporal Patrick B. Kenney, 20, of Pittsburgh; and Private Jason L. Frye, 19, of Landisburg, Pennsylvania.
Shayne graduated from Canton High School at the age of 18, and always said it was his mission to “make the world a better place.” Upon graduating from high school, he set this goal in motion when he decided to enlist in the Marines where he underwent basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Sharing a high school class together, I found Shayne to be a gregarious, larger-than-life personality. He had a charisma about him that was truly unparalleled. With an infectious smile, he would walk into a room, make a few wisecracks, and always have the people around him laughing. Shayne had the ability to drive you crazy, but you always knew there was a jocularity behind it that was driving it. Shayne didn’t have a bad bone in his body; he was authentic and sincere, charming and energetic. He was one hell of a guy, and his presence is sorely missed.
Captain Joel Schmidt, Commanding Officer of Shayne's Unit, remembers him:
“Shayne will always be remembered as the ‘skinny’ Marine who had equal or more fight and determination than any of the marines in Company G. Shayne could always be found at the front carrying more than his share of the load. Shayne used his drive to encourage all those who knew him to keep going, even when we thought we could go no further. We will forever be indebted to Shayne for bringing out the best in all of us. Shayne’s choice of service, his courage under fire, his irrepressible spirit, and drive to excel will always be at the heart of our memories of him.”
Shayne Cabino is a reminder of just exactly what it means to be a veteran: a hero, warrior, and a selfless role model. Also, his story is a reminder of how tragic, and inescapably real, war is. On Veterans Day, it is very important to remember--and truly understand--the struggle each soldier has endured for our country. Take a moment of silence, reflect, and say a prayer for all of our troops--both past and present, young and old, male and female--that risk their lives on a daily basis.
Donations can be made to:
Shayne M. Cabino Memorial Fund
18 Washington Street, Box 106
Canton, MA 02021