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Mural honors 10 lost in war on terror

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    A display for Lorain County Gold Star families at Jason Shaffer Studio in Amherst on Nov. 10.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

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AMHERST — Photographs of the 10 Lorain County soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan wars sat propped against a window ledge inside Jason Shaffer Photography Studio.

Every once in a while, a dad or mom would pause at the display before walking away.

Seeing a photograph of their son — their child who gave his life for his country — was almost too much to bear.

But, at the same time, it provided comfort. A comfort in knowing that someone outside their family cared.

The photographs of the deceased soldiers were used by local mural artists Mike Sekletar and Brian Goodwin to create a work of art that will be dedicated at 11 a.m. today off Park Avenue.

On Friday, the Amherst Veterans Mural Committee brought together the Gold Star families who have a son pictured on The War on Terror mural.

Armanda Ellis, mother of Sgt. Louis Ramon Torres, sat in a metal chair, trying to compose herself as friends tried to comfort her.

“I need to get it together,” she said.

But those around her knew she would never be the same.

Torres was 23 when he died Aug. 22, 2012, at the San Antonio Military Medical Center in Texas after being injured 16 days earlier in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

“He would be very grateful,” Ellis said Friday. “He just thought he was doing what he was supposed to be doing … He wanted to go into the service when he was young.”

Dan and Karen Shepherd shared a similar story about their son, Army Sgt. Daniel Michael Shepherd.

Army Sgt. Daniel Shepherd, 23, of Elyria, was killed Aug. 15, 2004, when his M2 Bradley fighting vehicle hit a homemade bomb.

“He is memorialized all over Ohio, but this is the closest place … near his home,” his dad said Friday. “I am amazed at what the (Amherst Veterans Mural) committee has done, and I am so pleased with the artists.”

Karen Shepherd said her son had “boundless energy.”

“He could never sit still,” she said with a small smile on her face.

Dan Shepherd said his son loved all things associated with the military.

“He was destined to be a soldier, I guess,” he said quietly.

Listening to the stories shared by the families Friday night provided only a glimpse into the daily struggles.

“It’s humbling to meet these families, and the honor is all ours,” Sekletar said. “These guys are from my own generation, and we’re honored to bring them home.”

In addition to Shepherd and Torres, the following Lorain County soldiers were killed during the war on terror:

  • Airman 1st Class Eric Barnes
  • Sgt. Benjamin Biskie
  • Spc. Jason Cox
  • Lance Cpl. Ryan Giese
  • Lance Cpl. David Hall
  • Sgt. Bruce Horner
  • Staff Sgt. James Hunter
  • Capt. Michael Medders
  • Sgt. Norman Tollett
  • Master Sgt. Robert West

Contact Melissa Linebrink at 329-7243 or mlinebrink@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @MLinebrinkCT.

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