Dawn Martin described her son Shawn as living each day to the fullest, and someone "who always jumped in to help."
The 30-year-old former Elsmere firefighter and Marine sergeant, who was killed in Iraq over the summer, was honored Sunday, Nov. 18, in a solemn ceremony at the firehouse he knew so well.
Parents Dawn and Paul Martin accepted the Bronze Star, one of the military's highest awards for heroic achievement, on behalf of their son, with a group of 100 friends, family and firemen looking on.
"Today is about Shawn and how he stepped forward to serve his country," said Maj. Tommy Wright, of the Albany Military Entrance Processing Station, who, along with Martin's fellow Marines Staff Sgt. David C. Carroll and Sgt. Richard Pierone, presented the honor to his family.
Martin, a member of the 13th Marine Expedition Unit Force stationed in Camp Pendleton, Calif., was in Iraq for just over five weeks when he was killed while conducting combat operations June 20, in Saqlawiyah. Martin and Staff Sgt. Stephen Wilson were conducting a visual sweep of an area where explosive devices were believed hidden. The two men were unable to use mechanical equipment in the rough terrain and had to move close to detonate one device. After inspecting the first blast site, a second device went off, killing both men.
"His zealous initiative and courageous action is keeping in the highest tradition of not only the Marine Corps but the U.S. Selected Service," read Carroll from a letter signed by President George W. Bush and written by Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of the Major Forces General Command of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Dawn Martin said her son was a "sweet little boy," who was stubborn and headstrong and very proud to be a Marine.
"Once he decided to become a Marine, he was truly driven," she said.