Exeter-raised soldier killed in Afghanistan

The middle soldier is Staff Sgt. Eric Shaw, 31, who grew up in Exeter and was killed Sunday, June 27, 2010 by enemy fire while serving in Afghanistan with the 327th Infantry, First Brigade Combat Team from Fort Campbell, Ky.  (Photo from Shaw's MySpace page)
The middle soldier is Staff Sgt. Eric Shaw, 31, who grew up in Exeter and was killed Sunday, June 27, 2010 by enemy fire while serving in Afghanistan with the 327th Infantry, First Brigade Combat Team from Fort Campbell, Ky. (Photo from Shaw's MySpace page)
Posted June 29, 2010, at 9:51 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:32 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Enemy gunfire has taken the life of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Eric Shaw — a 31-year-old soldier, husband and father of three — who grew up in Exeter, Gov. John Baldacci announced Tuesday.

Shaw was on his third combat tour and was serving in Afghanistan with the 327th Infantry, First Brigade Combat Team from Fort Campbell, Ky., when he was killed Sunday, a statement from the governor’s office said.

He is the second Fort Campbell-based soldier with ties to Maine to die in Afghanistan since last week. Sgt. Brandon Silk of Orono, who served with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, died on June 21.

Shaw graduated from Dexter Regional High School in 1999 and was a 2003 graduate of the University of Southern Maine in Gorham, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in education.

“His goal always was to be a history teacher,” Jesse Peterson of Rumford, a former fraternity brother of Shaw’s, said Tuesday afternoon. “His passion was wrestling and history. He loved history.”

Shaw, Peterson and Kevin Do, who also is from Rumford, joined the Sigma Nu fraternity while attending USM. Shaw’s grieving fraternity brothers said they are devastated by the news of his death.

“He was an honorable guy,” Do said. “He was a very good brother of Sigma Nu, not only doing volunteer work but also helping to manage an organization based on brotherhood.”

While in college, Shaw earned the nickname “Shaw Dawg,” and used the name on his MySpace profile, which features photos of his fellow soldiers and his two older daughters.

He listed the woman he married as his hero on his MySpace page.

“My wife, cause it takes a tough person to say goodbye to their mate for a long extended period of time and take care of [three] children,” he wrote on the Internet page. “All you army wives are heroes too.”

Shaw was born in Massachusetts and raised in Exeter by his father and paternal grandmother, who both are deceased. His mother lives in Rhode Island.

His wife and three children, ages 5, 2 and 6 weeks, live in Clarksville, Tenn., but Shaw’s wife was in Maine visiting her parents when she was notified of his death, the governor said. Her name was not released.

“All soldiers in combat pay a deep price for their service. For some, they make the ultimate sacrifice,” Baldacci said in his statement. “Staff Sgt. Shaw was a dedicated soldier with a young family. We will keep his wife and his children in our prayers. Our entire state mourns with them.”

The governor’s statement did not say when or where Shaw would be buried.

“We will provide whatever help and support we can during this terrible time,” Baldacci stated.

The four members of Maine’s congressional delegation also issued statements of condolence upon learning of Shaw’s death.

It “reminds us all of how close the current wars are to our local communities,” said 2nd District Rep. Mike Michaud. “He served his country with great honor that will not be forgotten.”

Shaw was a man “who heroically served our nation with unfathomable bravery that will forever be an inspiration to us all,” Sen. Olympia Snowe said. “His valorous devotion to defending our country truly humbles us, and his courageous actions stand as an enduring testament to what is best about this great land of ours.”

“I am deeply saddened by the death of Staff Sgt. Eric Shaw, and my sympathies go out to his family, friends, and loved ones who have suffered this terrible loss,” said Sen. Susan Collins. “I know I join all Mainers who are proud and grateful of Sgt. Shaw’s selfless service and dedication to his country.”

“The loss of any soldier, sailor, airman or Marine is heartbreaking and tragic,” said 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree. “Sgt. Shaw served our country bravely and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Our thoughts are with his young family and three small children during this very difficult time.”

The governor will order flags flown at half-staff on the day of Shaw’s funeral.

“One thing I’ll never forget about Eric is how many people really liked him,” Peterson said. “He was just one of those guys everyone loved. We really lost someone here.”

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