Deployed in January, 25-year-old Sgt. Robert Shane Pugh of Meridian had only been in Iraq for a few weeks before being killed in the line of duty Wednesday. As a member of the 155th Army National Guard brigade out of McComb, Pugh served as a medic with the unit where he would treat injured soldiers.
He died from injuries sustained from a "remote controlled" bomb which hit his Humvee. Married for almost a year to Amanda Pugh, his wife tells us that Shane, as most people called him, died in transport for treatment from shrapnel wounds. A hero until the end, she says military records show that even while injured, Shane was instructing soldiers how to treat him and another wounded soldier.
Although Shane died, at last check the other soldier was still alive. According to officials, this is thanks to Shane. For this, he will receive a special military honor.
Long before being deployed, those who worked with Shane at United Blood Services in Meridian say he was a hero.
"He was always looking for new ideas, ways to make things better, even for the company, for the donors, whomever. He was just an upbeat kind of guy," says Chris Coffin with United Blood Services.
Perhaps many of our viewers even remember Sgt. Pugh as the "upbeat guy" at the annual WTOK "Mash Bash" blood drive where he was a regular.
Sgt. Pugh's first year wedding anniversary would have been March 25. Now, instead of preparing for that, his wife is planning for his funeral. With his body set to arrive back in Meridian next Tuesday or Thursday, she says it will likely be the middle of next week before funeral arrangements are complete.
Meanwhile, perhaps one official who Shane served regularly during blood drives at Naval Air Station Meridian said it best when he said this about Shane.
"The one thing that United Blood Services tells us is to give the gift of life by donating blood. This only goes to show that Shane has actually given his life, which is the most precious gift to give," says MSgt. Ron Adkins.
"The death of Robert Shane Pugh is another great loss for the citizens of Mississippi," said Gov. Haley Barbour. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."
"The Mississippi National Guard once again faces the tragedy of losing another comrade in arms," said Maj. Gen. Harold Cross, the adjutant general of Mississippi. "This soldier is a true here, and we all mourn his loss along with the Pugh family."
Sgt. Pugh is the sixth soldier from east Mississippi to be killed in the line of duty in Iraq.