Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Shawn D Sykes

Portsmouth, Virginia

May 7, 2009

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
28 Army Spc

215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division

Fort Hood, Texas

 Died May 7 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds suffered from an accident that occurred May 5 at Combat Outpost Crazy Horse, Iraq.

From The Pilot Online hamptonroads.com 05/10/10:

Soldier killed in Iraq was doting and selfless, mom says
By Patrick Wilson
The Virginian-Pilot
© May 10, 2009

CHESAPEAKE

When she talked to her son, he sounded strong.

Spc. Shawn Dante Sykes, 28, had been wounded at his combat post May 5 in Iraq when a propane tank exploded in his face. The Army cook reassured his mother, Marion Cotton, that he would be OK in a phone call from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

"He said, 'OK, Momma, tell everybody I love them,' " said Cotton, who lives in Chesapeake. "He sounded so strong."

When he died Thursday, the family was shocked.

Cotton talked about her son Saturday night, remembering him as an anchor of the family, her best friend, everything she could have wanted in a son.

Sykes grew up in Portsmouth as the oldest of five children and the only son. He helped Cotton through a divorce and advised her on her education, she said.

When he came home in April for a two-week break from his second Iraq deployment, the family went out to eat and went bowling.

"We just had so much fun," Cotton said.

Sykes gave her $200 for groceries, $200 to go shopping for herself, bought her a freezer and gave gifts to his sisters.

He said he dreamed of buying a house in Florida where they all could live together.

He told his two youngest sisters, ages 7 and 10, that he would start an allowance for them if they did well in school.

"That was the kind of person my son was," Cotton said. "We have so much fun when we get together, and we love each other."

Shawn Sykes joined the military in 2001, serving as a cook in the Marines before the Army.

He was burned on his face and arm, which he used to shield himself from the blast, his mother said.

She wonders how something like that could happen to an experienced cook and said she hopes to get answers.

A family friend on Friday pointed Cotton to something on her son's MySpace page that she hadn't seen.

His heroes, he wrote, were "My Momma and grandma."

"He always had something encouraging to say to make me feel better," she said.
No funeral arrangements have been made yet.

From The Pilot Online hamptonroads.com 05/09/10:

Local GI returned to U.S. after fatal Iraq injury
By Kate Wiltrout
The Virginian-Pilot
© May 9, 2009

A soldier from Portsmouth who died after an accident in Iraq returned to U.S. soil Friday.

Spc. Shawn Dante Sykes, a 28-year-old who was assigned to the 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was injured Tuesday in an accident at Combat Outpost Crazy Horse in Iraq. He was sent to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where he died Thursday.

Sykes' remains were returned to Dover Air Force Base on Friday, authorities said.

He was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas. He joined the military in August 2001 as a food services specialist.

Sykes deployed to Iraq in December.

His decorations and awards include the Navy Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon and Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, according to a news release from Fort Hood.

Marion Cotton, his mother, returned from Delaware late Friday night and told WVEC-TV that the news of her son's death tore her up.

“I cried almost the whole ride there,” she said in the interview. “That’s my only son, my first born.”

She said that she spoke with her son, the oldest of five children, while he was in the hospital in Germany.

Cotton told WVEC-TV, a propane tank exploded in her son’s face while he was on the job as a food services specialist, cooking as he had since he joined the military. Sykes was in the Marine Corps before becoming a soldier. 

Sykes graduated from Churchland High School.

Pilot writers Patrick Wilson and Lauren King contributed to this report.

From the Fort Hood Sentinel forthoodsentinel.com 05/14/10:

1st Cavalry Division

Spc. Shawn Dante Sykes, 28, of Portsmouth, Va., died May 7 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds suffered from an accident that occurred May 5 at Combat Outpost Crazy Horse, Iraq.

Sykes entered the military in August 2001 as a food services specialist and had been assigned to the 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, since April 2007.

Sykes deployed to Iraq December 2008 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sykes’ decorations and awards include the Navy Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon and Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Shawn Sykes Shawn D. Sykes CHESAPEAKE - Spc. Shawn D. Sykes, 28, departed this life May 7, 2009, in Landstuhl, Germany. Shawn was born Aug. 6, 1980, in Portsmouth, to Sylvester Sykes and Marion Cotton. He was first enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, and later enlisted in the U.S. Army. He received numerous medals including the Army Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal and Expert Marksmanship Badge. Spc. Sykes leaves to cherish his memory a loving mother, Marion Cotton; a caring father, Sylvester Sykes; four sisters, Ashley Cotton, Brittany Cotton, Destinee Cotton and Nyanna Cotton; two special aunts, Sheron Wright (Thurman) and Betty Spencer (Bennie). A reflection of Shawn's life will be held today in J.T. Fisher Funeral Services, 1080 N. George Washington Hwy., Chesapeake, from 6 to 8 p.m. A life celebration service will be held at noon Friday in Grove Baptist Church, 5910 West Norfolk Road, Portsmouth, with Dr. Melvin O. Marriner officiating. Burial will be in Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery. 

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