By AW2 Soldier Alvin Shell
I was born December 17, 1976 to Alvin and Mable Shell. I have one older Brother Alton and one younger sister Tamela. I grew up in Va. Beach Va. and went to Kellam High School. I played college football at Concord College but I transferred to Va. State University as a Junior and later graduated with a BA in Sociology in 1998. I worked at the Riverside Regional Jail then at the Richmond Sheriff’s Department in Virginia.
I began my career in the Army as an enlisted soldier. I was stationed in Germany for two years before I was accepted to (OCS) Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning, GA. I was commissioned as a 2nd LT in 2002 then I went to Airborne school and directly to Fort Bragg, NC. I was a Platoon Leader in the 21st MP Co ABN and deployed with my platoon to Iraq. I traveled all over Iraq to include Baghdad, Kalsu, Fallujah, Mosul, and Basrah.
I spent most of my time in Fallujah under the command of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and fought in Operation Vigilant Resolve assisting with the siege of Fallujah. After the operation was complete, we moved to Baghdad at Camp Victory. We continued to do combat patrols and convoys. My Company Commander instituted a duty officer schedule assigning a senior NCO or Officer to go out every night on every patrol.
The night I was injured, I was not on the schedule to work. The officer that was supposed to go out got the days mixed up and she asked me to work her shift. I enjoyed patrols and the intense atmosphere so I agreed to take her shift even after my Platoon Sergeant protested vehemently. The night I went out, I went out with a platoon that was not my own. We patrolled in and out of local towns in Baghdad and finally began shadowing convoys going through the area. We saw a convoy traveling down the MSR and SSG Spaid got a funny feeling so we watched them go under a bridge. This is where the convoy and we were ambushed.
After the attack I woke up about 7-10 days later at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX. I was in ICU and could only move my left arm and feet at first. I could not talk or ever move my head around. The first thing I saw was my wife kissing me and my dad standing beside her. I rehabbed for about 18 months learning to walk and feed myself again. My mother being a speech pathologist taught me how to talk again. The road was tough and I had my fare share of setbacks but either my wife or dad stayed with me in Texas almost the entire time sacrificing their jobs and normal life to ensure I got better.
My wife’s dad William Miller “Chill” sacrificed his way of life and moved into my home to take care of my children while my wife stayed with me. When I could live unassisted, my children moved to Texas to live with me in the Fisher House. We lived the last months together in Texas then moved back to Fort Bragg where I was medically discharged from the Army. I have a 100% disability rating from VA.
I was hired by the Department of Homeland Security. The individuals who hired me, Jerry Williams and Jeffery Purdie, took a chance on me and hired me over the phone after a series of interviews. I remember answering their questions directly after a failed surgery on my arm, I was on a morphine drip and began repeating “don’t say anything stupid” in my head. They appeared to be impressed enough that they made a commitment to me over the phone. I guess I didn’t say anything stupid . All they asked me was what kind of special assistance did I need while at work. I said something to the effect of “all I need is a fair chance and I will be fine.” While at DHS I have been promoted to a Program Manager in the Force Protection Branch. I have completed FLETC training in Georgia. and I am a certified Federal Criminal Investigator.
I now have a great life with my wife Danielle and my three children Sean, Tre`, and Jachin. My family and my wife’s family are my constant crutch through life. I feel like a proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes. The only difference is I will live forever through the unwavering love my wife has for me in her eyes, the ambitions of Sean my oldest son, the balance of strength and emotional love from my second son Tre` which he displays daily, the unconditional love and affection Jachin show every day, and finally the look of approval in my parents face.
I was handicapped before I was injured in Iraq. The fire opened my eyes and made me appreciate every step and every breath I take.
Editors Note: AW2 Soldier Alvin Shell was was recently featured in the Department of Defense’s Wounded Warrior Diaries video series. Click here to watch his featured video on Wounded Warrior Diaries.