Within the rich fabric of human experience, there materializes an odyssey rising above the commonplace. Meet Shawn Patterson, a dedicated guardian of justice in the sunlit landscapes of Arizona, where he stands as a resolute police officer with the Mesa Police Department. His story, like the most captivating of adventures, extends far beyond the boundaries of his profession. Shawn's narrative takes us to the unforgiving battlegrounds of Afghanistan, where he served as an Airborne Infantryman with the prestigious 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. Within Shawn’s anecdote, we embark on a journey deep into the heart of brotherhood, facing the weight of profound loss, and bearing witness to the embodiment of internal fortitude.
To embark on this journey through Shawn’s life is to venture into a narrative that encapsulates the very essence of our Respect Campaign. We invite you to explore the profound lessons woven into Shawn's journey. Looking at the journey his life has taken will hopefully lend some insight to the heart of his mission—a mission that honors fallen comrades and carries forth invaluable lessons. With this approach, we aim to kindle a deep emotional connection to Shawn's path, inspiring all to seek healing from the scars of their past and to ignite inspiration and ingenuity to heal in meaningful ways.
“My name is Shawn Patterson and I’m a Police Officer with the Mesa Police Department in Arizona. I am currently a Recruit Training Officer at our Police Academy. As a training officer I am one of four officers in charge of 41 recruits currently going through the Mesa Police Academy. I serve as a mentor, trainer, and role model for these recruits as they navigate a 24 week basic police academy.
I served in the United States Army stationed in Ft. Lewis, WA with the 2nd Ranger Battalion from 2010 to 2014. During that time I conducted 2 combat deployments in Afghanistan respectively in 2011 and 2013; as an airborne infantryman (11B), serving within my platoon as a member of the heavy weapons squad. During these deployments I demonstrated a keen understanding of my role and responsibility, not only within my platoon, but also how we integrated with the rest of Bravo Company and its larger objective.
When I first got to my duty station I was assigned as an Assistant Gunner (AG) as part of a crew served heavy machine gun team. Our duties, both in training scenarios and in combat, were to set up our machine gun as part of a cordon or an ‘outer perimeter’ while our assault teams targeted the enemy compound. We were responsible for defending our position against enemy attacks and had to be hyper vigilant. My brothers and I conducted over 50 direct action night raids in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
During these raids we would target high level members of the Taliban on ‘kill or capture’ missions. It was during my first deployment I lost my dear friends and Ranger brothers, Sgt. Tyler Holtz and Spc. Ricardo Cerros Jr. during two separate missions. Although it was a rough deployment I truly count myself blessed for knowing Tyler and Ricardo.
Sgt. Tyler Nicholas Holtz, 22, was killed in action by enemy forces during a heavy firefight while conducting combat operations in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, on 24 September 2011. He was leading an assault against an enemy position when he was mortally wounded by small arms fire.
Spc. Ricardo Cerros Jr., 24, was killed in action by enemy forces during a heavy firefight while conducting combat operations in Logar Province, Afghanistan, on 8 October 2011. He was mortally wounded by an enemy grenade as he was providing cover for a wounded soldier. He selflessly gave his life to shield his comrade from the fragmentation.
Although it was only a very small portion of my life; so far, it was by far the most meaningful and important. Needless to say, I am quite proud of my accomplishments during my military service. The lessons and values I learned during my time in Ranger Battalion are things I will carry with me every day. It has shaped me to be the man I am and taught me the importance of being humble and kind, working hard, and leading by example.
My passion is for growth and improvement. I’m always striving to be better. This shines through my constant drive to learn and better my understanding as a leader within my community. I’m currently training for an upcoming challenge where I will be hiking 425 miles from Dana Point, CA to Salinas, CA in honor of 2 of my fallen brothers.
For the last decade, I have struggled with how to honor Tyler and Ricardo as men of courage, honor, and conviction who sacrificed everything so their fellow soldiers could make it home alive. They are loved and missed every day by those who knew them, most of all by their families.
This year I am partnering with Legacies Alive, an organization focused on supporting our Nation’s Gold Star Families, by undertaking the 2023 Legacies Alive Challenge. On September 24, 2023, the 12th anniversary of Tyler’s death, I will begin a 425-mile, four week hike from Tyler’s hometown of Dana Point, CA and finish in Ricardo’s hometown of Salinas, CA. My mission is to honor, celebrate, and pay tribute to not just Tyler and Ricardo, but to all who have died in service to the United States of America. The money raised will go towards building permanent memorials, for both Tyler and Ricardo, in each of their hometowns respectively.
This trek will raise awareness of the sacrifice all of our fallen service members and their families have made so we can enjoy the freedoms of living in this great country. My hope is that by the end of my hike hundreds, if not thousands, more Americans learn of the sacrifice these men and our Gold Star Families have made.
My goal for the next 1 to 3 years is to be promoted to Sergeant in my Police Department. I would like to lead, mentor, and train a squad of officers and have a positive influence on them like so many of my supervisors have had on me.
I respect the leaders I’ve had in both the military and police environment that lead by example. The leaders who don’t just tell you what to do, but actually do it themselves and expect you to follow them. I always found my greatest mentors (drill sergeants, squad & platoon leaders, recruit training officers) were the ones who spent the most time around their men and women. I try to demonstrate that myself and be a positive influence for my recruits.” - Shawn Patterson
In the timeless tapestry of human existence, Shawn Patterson's story stands as a radiant thread, illuminating the path to healing and inspiration. As we conclude this expedition into the remarkable life of a man who has walked the corridors of both darkness and light, we find ourselves not merely spectators but participants in a universal narrative of resilience. Shawn's journey, from the mountainous trails of Afghanistan to the training grounds of the Mesa Police Academy, echoes the human spirit's innate ability to transcend adversity and emerge stronger. His mission to honor fallen comrades, Tyler and Ricardo, exemplifies a commitment to preserving the memory of those who have sacrificed everything for their country.
In Shawn's dedication to growth and improvement, we discern a universal truth: healing is a journey, and it is achievable for all. His story inspires us to acknowledge our own trials, confront our past traumas, and embark on a quest for personal development and self-respect. As we take our leave from this captivating narrative, let Shawn Patterson's odyssey serve as a beacon of hope and resilience, inviting us all to follow a path of healing, inspiration, and respect for the inexorable human spirit. In the footsteps of heroes like Shawn, may we find the strength to triumph over adversity and, in doing so, inspire the generations that follow to reach greater heights.
An Army Ranger who was wounded in the line of duty, David Reid recalls the mission that cost him his left leg—and nearly his life. This is David, in his own words, on what the experience taught him about his own strength—and that of the human spirit.
Welcome to 'Stories of Honor', a collection of stories that seeks to explore the depths of human experience through the lives of those who have served our country in the US military, our communities as first responders, or abroad in federal agencies. We’re dedicated to sharing their challenges. We'll be delving into the trials and triumphs of these men and women, who have devoted their lives to serving and protecting our country and communities.
Interestingly, instead of this experience completely isolating me and causing me to distrust everyone, it’s incentivized me to be more open and more vulnerable to other people. It’s in trying to avoid pain – in constantly trying to please others, or protect yourself – that pain will find and break us apart. I choose to open myself to the judgment of others because their reactions will tell me if there is a place in my life for them or not.
We live life dialed to eleven.
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