Life of Green Beret remembered by teammates, unit


running up that hill
Jan 3, 2007
in Wonderland, with my Alice Archive/2009/September/090924-01.html

By Maj. April N. Olsen
5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Public Affairs Officer

Fort Campbell, KY (USASOC News Service, Sept. 24, 2009) – As Americans across the nation woke to a day of remembrance on Sept. 11, Staff Sgt. Shane Angell ran a 12-mile road march and graduated Air Assault School on Fort Campbell, Ky. It was just another day of training for the second-generation Green Beret.

Later that day, during a motorcycle ride on Kentucky Highway 100, about six miles outside of Russellville, Ky., Angell collided with another vehicle.

The 26-year-old died instantly of injuries sustained in the crash.

"You do deployments to Iraq, you expect it [can happen]," said Staff Sgt. Eugene "Gunny" Watson, Shane's best friend and teammate on an Operational Detachment-Alpha in 5th Special Forces Group.

The shock of losing his friend to an accident weighed on Gunny as he recalled a conversation he and Shane had in Iraq earlier this year.

Gunny said he and Shane each gave their word that should something happen to either of them, the other would look after his family.

"I have that commitment to Ashley (Shane's widow)," Gunny said. "Whatever I can do, I'm gonna do."

Gunny, his ODA, and members of the 3rd Battalion and 5th SFG have been providing assistance to the family since the accident – providing meals, helping with funeral arrangements, and hosting family members traveling to the services.

"It makes me feel good knowing we put ourselves on the line… and if something happens to me, my family will be taken care of," Gunny said.

"Ashley is not gonna have to go at it alone," he said. "She knows all of Group is behind her."

The response from his son's unit is no surprise to Shane's father, retired Sgt. Major Glenn Angell.

"Some things never change," Angell said of the tendency for those in the Special Forces community to go beyond what is expected to take care of families.

Angell said he and his extended family are grateful for the outpouring of assistance for his daughter-in-law and granddaughter.

"What they are doing for me and my family… it's unbelievable to see," he said.

No stranger to Special Forces, Sgt. Maj. Angell spent 14 years of his Army career in 5th Group before retiring in 2008.

Sgt. Maj. Angell's last assignment was at the Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, where his son completed his Special Forces Qualification Course as an Engineer Sergeant in 2006.

"Everything he did made me proud, to follow in my footsteps," the senior Angell recalled.

Enlisting in the Army under the Special Forces 18 X-Ray program in 2004, Shane completed infantryman training at Fort Benning before being selected for SF training.

Upon completion of the Q-Course, Shane was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Group, where his father had served most of his SF time.

Shane deployed twice to Iraq with 3rd Battalion, most recently returning in July. His father also served combat tours while assigned to 3rd Battalion, deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of 9/11.

Some of his teammates said his father's example contributed to Shane's decision to join the Army.

"Shane grew up the son of a Green Beret," said Capt. Adam Hurley, his ODA team leader. "He was exposed to Green Berets his whole life."

"There were people Shane worked with that his father worked with," Hurley said. "That's unique to 5th Group and Special Forces."

The ODA team sergeant recalls Shane taking it in stride when instructors at one shooting course teased him for being the son of a fellow Green Beret.

"A lot of the instructors knew his father and they picked on him a little bit harder," said Master Sgt. John Mauldin. "You have to have a thick skin… Shane could definitely let it roll off his back and keep going."

Hurley credits Shane's easy-going approach with balancing out his ODA.

"He took his job very seriously as an engineer and he would help other people with their jobs," Hurley said. "But he always seemed to joke around at the right time when people needed it."

His reputation for jokes will be missed in the team room, Hurley said, as well as stories from home about his wife and daughter.

"One defining characteristic of Shane was how much he talked about and loved Ashley and Skylie," Hurley said.

Mauldin, who has four daughters of his own, said he could appreciate Shane's ability to balance his work and family life.

"He was a very, very devoted husband. He would do anything for his family," Mauldin said.

One way his Soldiers are dealing with the loss of a teammate is by helping Gunny keep the promise he made to Shane in Iraq.

"We're working to finish up his projects around the house," Mauldin said. "We're trying to help out where we can."

"Skylie's only two years old now… but as his 'work family' we'll be around to tell her who her Dad was," Mauldin said.

Although he has 19 years in the Army and five deployments to Iraq, Mauldin had not lost a Soldier until Shane's death. While keeping busy with the Angell family and his team, Mauldin said he has learned a few things after knowing Shane.

"I've learned to live a little bit better, understand life can be cut off in such a fleeting moment," Mauldin said. "Try not to worry about the petty things. Love a little deeper, live a little stronger."

Soldiers from an Operational Detachment-Alpha carry the casket of Staff Sgt. Shane Angell following a funeral service held on Fort Campbell Sept. 18. Angell, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), was killed in a motorcycle accident Sept. 11, 2009. (Photo by Army Sgt. Tobias McCoy)

Staff Sgt. Shane Angell

Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) pay respect to teammate Staff Sgt. Shane Angell during a memorial service on Fort Campbell Sept. 21. Angell was killed in a motorcycle accident Sept. 11. (Photo by Army Spc. Andrew Jacob)

This says it all.

The shock of losing his friend to an accident weighed on Gunny as he recalled a conversation he and Shane had in Iraq earlier this year