THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Fallen Mansfield soldier was transformed by war

Corey Shea, 21, was killed by an Iraqi Army soldier. Corey Shea, 21, was killed by an Iraqi Army soldier.
By Milton J. Valencia
Globe Staff / November 15, 2008
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MANSFIELD - He was good at football and hockey, was one heck of a poker player, and Corey Shea joined the Army because he knew he would be good as a soldier, too, his family said yesterday.

And he was, family members said.

"He was a hero," his mother, Denise Anderson, said yesterday. "He was my hero."

Shea, a 21-year-old who grew into a man in Iraq, died there Wednesday near the city of Mosul when he and other soldiers with his troop were shot at by a renegade Iraqi soldier with possible ties to Al Qaeda. One other American soldier, Jose Regalado, 23, of Los Angeles, was killed and six were injured. The Iraqi soldier was shot dead.

Army officials waited outside Anderson's home in Mansfield Wednesday night to tell her of her son's death, but by then she knew. She reacted the only way a mother who had just lost her son could, succumbing to emotions with the rest of her family.

She had spoken with him recently. Just weeks ago, he was home on leave from Iraq. And he was a different man, mature and smart, his mother said.

"He was a different person," Anderson said.

Shea, a specialist and cavalry scout with Killer Troop, Third Squadron, Third Armored Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Hood, Texas, had been in Iraq for a year and his tour of duty was set to expire in January.

But already he had become the soldier he wanted to be, his mother said.

He joined the Army for the camaraderie, the sense of belonging. No one likes being in war, but he liked being a soldier, Anderson said. He drove Humvees and Bradley vehicles, and manned gun turrets.

"Anything they told him to do, he'd do in a heartbeat," his mother said. "He looked out for people, he looked out for me, too."

Shea is the first soldier from Mansfield known to have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Massachusetts Veterans Services' office.

He graduated from Mansfield High School in 2005 as a popular student who played football and hockey. He had close friends, and many girlfriends. He was handsome, his mother said.

Shea took some college classes but wanted to be a soldier and enlisted not long after high school, according to Anderson. He was stationed in Texas before he was deployed.

But he returned to his school just weeks ago, during his leave, to see old teachers and show the person he had become.

"One of the teachers told him he could do what he wanted with his life, and he went back to show him," said his sister, Kristen Anderson, 17, who attends the school now. The school had a moment of silence in Shea's honor yesterday.

"They could never duplicate our Corey Shea, ever," said his stepfather, Jeff Margolin.

Shea had talked of attending classes at Texas A&M once his tour ended, his mother said. He planned to major in criminal justice, and wanted to be a police officer.

No funeral arrangements have been made. Denise Anderson said it could be a week before any plans are arranged. She asked anyone considering sending flowers to instead make a donation to an Iraq veterans support group.

In September, an Army public affairs unit stationed with Shea's troop reported on the soldiers' success on stemming the violence at patrols near Mosul. Shops and restaurants opened more frequently, and pedestrian and vehicle traffic increased, reported the unit, Task Force Iron.

The report had also detailed the soldiers' improved relations with the Iraqi Army.

Milton Valencia can be reached at mvalencia@globe.com.

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