MERIDIAN, MS, USA U.S. Army SGT, HHC, 1ST BATTALION, 155TH INFANTRY, (1 MEF), MCCOMB, MS BAGHDAD, IRAQ 03/02/2005
Robert Shane Pugh was from Meridian, Mississippi and he was stationed in McComb, MS. He died March 2 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.
Shane and his wife Amanda would have celebrated their first anniversary later that same month. The soldier enjoyed playing his PlayStation and watching football, but his favorite things were NASCAR and wrestling, his family says. Friends say he could always make them laugh.
Shane was a licensed paramedic/phlebotomist who worked for United Blood Services in Meridian. “He was great guy,” said Chris Coffin, who worked with Pugh. “He would just light up a room and he could lighten the spirit.” Coffin said Pugh had worked with the company collecting blood for more than five years and had developed close relationships with employees and blood donors. Coffin said Pugh was eager to learn about new technology in the field and had a unique way of touching the lives of those around him. “He was just one of those great, personable guys,” Coffin said. “He had a real positive impact on everyone around him.”
After he was mortally wounded, combat medic Shane directed a group of soldiers to save the life of another comrade wounded beside him. “Shane was an expert in dealing with wounds that come when that happens. Though he was injured himself, another soldier lay wounded next to him,” said Maj. Gen. Harold Cross, adjutant general for the Mississippi National Guard. “Shane directed a group of primarily engineers on what to do to stop that soldier’s bleeding enough to where he could be stabilized.” Maj. Gen. Harold A. Cross, the adjutant general of Mississippi, also called Pugh a hero. “The Mississippi National Guard once again faces the tragedy of losing another comrade in arms,” Cross said. “This soldier is a true hero, and we all mourn his loss along with the Pugh family.”
“Shane was a beloved son, a devoted husband, a friend of his community and a citizen soldier,” said Brig. Gen. Ben Gaston, who spoke at Pugh’s service. “I remember Shane as being one of the most spiritual kids in my church. He was an example to other youth,” said the Rev. Calvin Farmer. “Shane Pugh did not die without purpose. Shane is a hero.”
Military leaders want to make sure his sacrifice is not forgotten. Officials planned ceremonies this weekend to rename the National Guard Readiness Center in Morton for Pugh. With the dedication of this facility, 10 Guard buildings in Mississippi will have been named for soldiers who died in the line of duty in recent years. Maj. Gen. Harold A. Cross, Mississippi’s adjutant general, wants to dedicate military facilities throughout the state for Guard soldiers who “paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Tim Powell, a Guard spokesman.
For his selfless actions, Pugh was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the third-highest military honor, as well as the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Mississippi Medal of Valor. The Silver Star was established by Congress in 1918 and is designated solely for Heroism in Combat; and Shane Pugh is the only Silver Star recipient from the 155th. “Shane Pugh deserves this award so much because he was on the battlefield as he lay mortally wounded, under fire and helped another soldier keep his life. Because of his actions, another soldier lived to come back to this great country and enjoy the freedoms of America,” said Major General Harold Cross.
“The death of Robert Pugh is another great loss for the citizens of Mississippi,” Gov. Haley Barbour said in a prepared statement. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”