Soldier to be honored with baseball field

HASTINGS – Friends and neighbors plan to honor a local Marine who was killed while serving in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sgt. Derek Lee Shanfield, a 2006 Cambria Heights graduate, was killed June 8, 2010, in Helmund province.

To honor his service, a Hastings bridge and baseball field will both bear Shanfield’s name.

“He was a hero, let’s face it,” said John Kuhn, Hastings Veterans of Foreign Wars post commander. “He was a hero to our country.”

The VFW dedicated a baseball field near Seventh Avenue and Coleman Street in Shanfield’s honor.

And the bridge over Brubaker Run will be renamed the Sgt. Derek Lee Shanfield Memorial Bridge, state Rep. Gary Haluska said.

Shanfield’s mother, Pam Shanfield, said it was truly special for the community to honor her son.

“I think it means people remember him and they will remember him for a long time,” she said.

Shanfield was an athlete who played soccer, swam and ran cross country, his father David Shanfield said.

Shanfield enlisted in the Marines in 2005 and had been promoted to sergeant. He was killed while serving in the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force.

“Sgt. Derek Lee Shanfield made the ultimate sacrifice,” Haluska said. “Dedication of this space in the community and renaming this bridge in his honor are appropriate ways to remind all of us of the example he set and the love and devotion he showed to his community and his country.”

Shanfield’s twin brother, Devin, and older brother, Sydney, are also Marines currently serving away from home.

David Shanfield said his two youngest sons followed their older brother’s example by enlisting in the Marines.

A wooden sign with Shanfield’s name and Marine insignia will be unveiled at the baseball field during a ceremony today, Kuhn said.

Shanfield was awarded the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

He was also awarded a Purple Heart, the NATO Non-Article 5 Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

Community members are encouraged to attend the baseball field dedication ceremony at 1 p.m. today, followed immediately by the bridge dedication ceremony.

“We like to support all our vets,” Kuhn said. “He gave the ultimate, so the least we can do is show our appreciation.”

“The VFW, we feel it’s an honor for us to do this for him.”

Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535.