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Alice Baratone, Marine Mom and Military Poet, sent this poem to Shawn's parents.



LCpl Shawn P. Hefner

In 1986, December 4th had come
This would be the day I’d have my newborn son

I knew that he was special; a gift of joy to see
A son to fill my life with love and purity

I gazed at your face and knew my wish came true
My baby Shawn was here; a life that was so new

You had an older brother; Brandon was his name
He gave you all his love; a love that was so great

Your zest for life brought tears and laughter to us all
Beginning with the time that you began to crawl

Lathrop, Missouri; was where we lived back then
You were just in diapers, but fishing was your friend

You’d grab the fishing pole, and wandered towards the gates
All the bells would ring as you tried your great escape

The bells were on the gates to keep you home and safe
But you were very smart and learned how to get away

You wanted to go fishing and loved to be outdoors
Fish would be awaiting; and the catch would soon be yours

I bought a child’s leash to keep you safe at home
Now you’d be just fine if you felt the need to roam

While living in the country, a baby sister came
You were a big brother; your life was not the same

Now you would be three; siblings oh so tight
You grew up together from morning til the night

You three played together and went out in the field
You found the fireflies and what they soon would yield

You squished each firefly until you had their juice
You couldn’t wait to glow; you wouldn’t let them loose

You smeared each other’s faces; oh the fun you had
You glowed like fireflies just as you had planned

We lived in the country until you were age three
You felt the adventure of what that life would be

Our family soon would move to the town of Hamilton
Still living in Missouri we soon would settle in

The Swan’s man came to town with ice cream in the truck
Your dad loved ice cream too, so you would be in luck

Cris Clampit  was the Swan’s man; he came to know you well
He became a friend that you thought was pretty swell

He’d sit upon our couch before his day would end
Then he’d fall asleep, but it was just pretend        

Your dad gave the look; you both went for the spoon
A great big wooden spoon that now you two would use

Creeping towards the truck to sneak the yummy treat
Thinking would we make it; how much could we eat?

Cris never was asleep for it was just pretend
You laughed so loud each time at the very end

You had a love for ice cream and had a favorite kind
Mint chocolate chip for you; its what you had in mind

I told you it had spinach and you thought it to be true
You called it spinach ice cream, and that was fine with you

You were now sure growing and time was flying by
I saw you as you grew; this little boy of mine

We moved to Hico, Texas, where you started school
This little boy of mine would learn the Golden Rules

You would make new friends and learn so many things
You had a zest for life and all that it would bring

You talked of the Marines when you were just age five
You always had this thought down deep within your mind

You mimicked a Marine, and said, “it’s what I want”
You even had your room in jungle camouflage

You wore camouflaged clothes and had a survival book
Although you couldn’t read, you certainly did look

Kindergarten and second grade, a teacher came to mind
Mrs. Uptergrove kept everyone in line

She was a great teacher who really left her mark
You thought she was cool, and very, very smart

During fifth and sixth grades you had found your faith
It was at Discovery Camp that you now found your way

You found yourself with God and peace within your mind
You gave me honesty and showed you could be kind

You had special moments, treasured in your past
One was with your sister; one that will always last

During nighttime hours, you both laid by the pool
Gazing at the stars as they gazed back at you

You loved your sister Meagan, but what she didn’t know
Was gazing at the stars was your link into her soul

Then you had some buddies that drove you all around
I worried when you left to go out on the town

Nick and Norus McNalley; two of your best friends
Norus being older, but it didn’t matter then

Together all the time, you had so much fun
Playing in the house or out to get some sun        
The boys’ mother, Lynn, was like your second mom
A mom who loved you so, whom you depended on

You really liked adventure with another friend name Stan
Stan Bundy was like you, so together you both ran

You’d scope out an area and set the trap just so
Trying to trap animals as you both were on the go

You spent many summers with Stan and his family
You’d go to Devil’s River with adventures yet to see

You came home with stories of the dangers at your feet
Living through those dangers you thought were pretty neat

Robbie was another friend who had you in his class
Whether in or out of school you two would have a blast

You went behind the house and climbed the mountain trail
You mastered the steep climb never being frail

A native medicine wheel was at the base of the hill
You  looked over the valley so peaceful and so still

The name of Hico, Texas, Small Town USA
Home of Billy the Kid, you would hear them say

Billy was adventurous who somehow became lost
You were that way too, but never at a cost

There was a girl in Junior High that your eyes would see
You dated for awhile; her name was Emily

When you were age fourteen the terrorists attacked
You knew then you’d fight, it’s where your mind was at

During High School days, you broadened all your skills
You learned how to weld and also how to build  

You had Mr. Post who taught you during shop
Another favorite teacher who you liked a lot

Yet another talent was food that you would grill
Smoked with certain wood was sure a tasty meal

You said, “a chef’s kitchen is what I needed most”
So we could the cook the meals that a chef would host

Your smile brought the warmth that we all felt inside
Your laughter was contagious for those nearby your side   

You freely gave your heart and freely gave your hugs
Memories of my son that’s filled with so much love

You had silly times when I would shake my head
Like cliff diving naked with one of your best friends

Just like many families we also had rough times
Times that molded you into the man you’d find

You saw days of bad, and crossed some bridges too
Then you crossed the bridge of the proud and of the few

You took all you learned, along with what you’d seen
You looked at me and said, “I want to be a Marine”

January 2008, you took your oath so true
You promised to protect, the red, the white, the blue

You and Brandon Blackmon saw the same Company
You two became brothers and trained proficiently

Boot Camp days were over; you now saw SOI
School of Infantry was the training in your sight

You and Brandon trained until graduation came
Then off to Camp Lejune, your sights were still the same

You were a proud Marine, one of the very best
The eagle, globe and anchor, pinned upon your chest

You became a man; you were now transformed
A Marine who stood so tall inside his uniform

You trained at SOI for deployment to Iraq
With your buddies near you gave all you had

April 2009 you were home on leave
I looked at my son and the man he came to be

We knew you’d be deployed, but now where would you go?
We thought at first Iraq, but this would not be so

Deployment orders changed to Afghanistan
The place of heavy war among the sun and sand

Deployment soon had come and you were on the plane
Your life as a Marine forever now had changed

A camping trip was planned before you had to leave
Time now with my son; my love for him to see

On this camping trip a buddy came along
A Texan and Marine, he surely did belong

I thought of you so much; the boy that I had raised
I thought about your smile and prayed you would be safe

I felt the fear inside that any parent feels
Feelings of the war and knowing this was real

I prayed to God so much to protect you out in war
Protect your mind and heart for all that was in store

I began a journal to mark your special path
A path of the reflection of places you were at

June 2009; it was Father’s Day
You were now deployed; you were on your way

You soared through the sky from Turkey out to Stan
You looked through window at where you were to land

You saw a foreign country with sand and intense sun
Deep inside your mind was, “get this battle won”

Care packages were sent; I knew that you would share
I packed them every Thursday; I packed them all with care

Some were for beach parties, some had ice cream treats
There was something different for everyone to eat

You and all your buddies nicknamed me “the moms”
With all the special packages, I could do no wrong

Then my son had told me that they were getting stacked
I told him to share more of the things that I did pack

You received your mail, but others received none
You sent me into action to start the mail run

You were with your brothers who held a special pact
A pact that brothers give to protect each other’s backs

Sent out on a mission; your orders very clear
They were carried out with your brothers always near

Cpl William Pullen; a friend right from the start
Another true Marine whose friendship would not part

Pullen was the driver with eight Marines on board
One of them was you; close quarters were in store

An IED went off and your vehicle was hit
Pullen couldn’t move; you knew you could not sit

He couldn’t move his legs and was blacking in and out
You came to his rescue; of this there was no doubt

The evacuation point was fifty feet away
You carried him to safety so he could live that day

You were a true hero, but it never crossed your mind
For you were a Marine, the best that one could find    

Five and a half months past; the last package was received            
You and your whole Unit would very soon now leave

November 2009, my telephone did ring
You were a LCpl.; promotion was the thing

You were so excited to receive the rank so new
Being a Marine was what you really knew

I looked towards Thanksgiving Day
Homecoming soon would come your way

You said you had a mission; one last to carry through
We talked about the holidays and what we planned for you

I started on a scrapbook and ordered the supplies
A Christmas gift for you I’d finish just in time

On November 13th, my world forever changed
Life as I had known would never be the same

A knock was at the door; could UPS be here?
Little did I know three soldiers would appear

My heart just seemed to crumble and I could feel the tears
How could this be real; how could I face these fears

The soldiers in their uniforms explained how you had died
They said you were a hero; a hero for all times

You were on a mission; just hours to complete    
You walked around an M-Rap, and stepped on an IED

On that fateful day you entered Heaven’s gates
God reached out to you to lead you on your way

Forever a Marine you stood so proud and tall
Now you are in Heaven for others who will fall

For when our heroes fall they leave their families
Whose heavy hearts and souls are very much in need

God said, “come with me, for I have special plans
Plans for a special angel to spread across the land

You will have the rank along with angel wings
To carry out your mission and all that it will bring

I need a special angel whose heart and soul is pure
To travel to the families who miss their angels here        

You will spread the word that God is by their side
That their heroes here are angels with such pride

They wear their uniforms with angels wings behind
They carry out their missions that God has set aside

Your mission is now clear, but there is one thing more
You will guide your family and those whom you adore

They will feel your presence, for you will warm their hearts
They’ll know that you’re an angel whose love will never part