U of I memorial dedicated to fallen Illinois National Guard Soldier PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sgt. 1st Class Kassidy L. Snyder, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs   
Tuesday, 10 September 2013 14:15

URBANA-CHAMPAIGN, IL (09/09/2013)(readMedia)-- A permanent memorial was dedicated in memory of Sgt. Shawna Morrison, a fallen Illinois National Guardsman, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Sept. 8.

Morrison enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard in 1996 at age 17 and was a member of the 1544th Transportation Company (TC) in Paris, Ill, and was a member of the University's Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). While deployed with the 1544th to Iraq she was killed Sept. 5, 2004 by a mortar attack.

Hundreds of friends, family and fellow servicemembers gathered for the ceremony to include her company commander Maj. Brandon Tackett, the former 1544th TC commander. Tackett is with the Ohio Army National Guard and flew from Kuwait to be part of the ceremony. The entire 1544th along with the 144th Army Band and the University's ROTC program marched from the University of Illinois Armory to Lincoln Hall where the dedication was held.

"She had an infectious personality and energy to match her work ethic," said Tackett. "She was a special person, a person willing to leave the safe confines of the University and fight for other people's freedom in a far and distant dangerous land."

Morrison was the first female from the Illinois National Guard killed while serving in Iraq. She was also the first Illinois student actively enrolled in college to die in combat operations.

"She was a member of the Illinois family," said Phyllis M. Wise, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign chancellor. "Her service and commitment will touch all those who are at Illinois now and forever in the future. With this memorial marker, she will always have a place...in the heart of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign."

Morrison was enrolled at the University of Illinois as a psychology major and intended to commission as an Army officer after graduation to continue a career in the military.

"As students, teachers and parents walk past Shawna's memorial in this place of continuing pride, continuing purpose and continuing mission, someone will ask 'Who was Sergeant Shawna Morrison?' and someone will know and someone will remember," said Brig. Gen. Daniel M. Krumrei, the Illinois National Guard Adjutant General. "Someone will tell them she was a part of latest greatest generation. Shawna Morrison was a citizen. Shawna Morrison was a Soldier."

In addition to the memorial, Sept. 8, 2013 is now known as Sgt. Shawna Morrison Day in Illinois "in honor and observance of this heroic Soldier whose service and sacrifice is an inspiration to citizens of the land of Lincoln," stated the proclamation signed by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.

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