Kaiserslautern community mourns two dedicated soldiers
Kaiserslautern’s military community remembered two of its own Thursday at a memorial ceremony at Daenner Kaserne’s Daenner Community Chapel.
Unlike some U.S. military communities in Germany, Kaiserslautern has largely been spared the need for such an occasion. Perhaps because of this, the deaths of Staff Sgt. Michael A. Shank and Spc. Jeffrey G. Roberson in Afghanistan were particularly rough on the community. Both were members of the 230th Military Police Company, 95th Military Police Battalion, stationed in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
All the pews were filled 30 minutes before the service honoring the two military policemen started. At least 400 showed up to pay their final respects.
During the ceremony, Spc. Angela M. Yorba remembered Roberson as her best friend and teammate.
She said Roberson had been wounded earlier in the deployment and was given the opportunity to go back to Germany, which he declined. He stayed with his team because they needed him, Yorba said.
Having been back in Germany for just 36 hours after leaving Afghanistan, 1st Lt. Rachel Theisen, commander of the platoon the two soldiers belonged to, was stunned when she got word that the soldiers had died. She recalled that when she heard the news, she couldn’t believe that Shank had fallen.
“He was my invincible squad leader,” Theisen said. “He couldn’t be killed.”
When the ceremony was over, every person in the chapel took turns walking to the front of the chapel to salute or say a few last words. Few eyes were dry.
According to family members, the soldiers’ Humvee hit a land mine while traveling along a mountain road in Logar.
The Herald Democrat, the newspaper in Shank’s hometown of Bonham, Texas, reported that the unit had been in Afghanistan for about six months when the attack occurred.
Shank was married and had two daughters. He had just re-enlisted in March, family members said.
Roberson’s mother, Virginia Jones, told The Daily Press in Victorville, Calif., that serving in the Army gave her son a sense of purpose.
“I think he just finally found his calling over there,” she said.
Roberson, 22, a native of Phelan, Calif., hoped to join the California Highway Patrol after the Army.