Army Reserve Lt. Col. Shawn M. Pine was a veteran intelligence officer by trade, but soldiers and family knew him as a crusader for the underdog.
A Ranger, Pine, 51, of San Antonio was killed Wednesday when his SUV hit a roadside bomb near Kabul, Afghanistan. He was a consultant for MPRI, an Old Town Alexandria, Va., security firm. Services are pending.
Pine once got a group of soldiers to pitch in to pay for a funeral. There was the time he made sure a foreign national got life-saving surgery. And, one day long ago on the streets of San Antonio, Pine helped a homeless man and his family.
“I remember when I was in kindergarten, we were driving somewhere in San Antonio and there was this guy with two kids on the street and a sign asking for donations, and so we just went into the grocery store,” recalled Pine’s daughter, Rachel Pyeatt, 21. “I asked him why we didn’t give him the money like (the homeless man) asked, and he said that way we would make sure the kids got fed.”
Described by a retired NCO as a beloved officer, Pine is the first Alamo City resident killed in action this year and the 46th from the San Antonio area to die in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9-11.
Air Force 1st Lt. Roslyn L. Schulte, 25, of St. Louis, Mo., also died in the blast, becoming the 56th American service member killed in action there in 2009, and the 686th of the war.
A career soldier with nine years on active duty in the Army, Pine’ s military career included a three-year stint with the Golani Brigade of the Israeli Defense Forces.
He was a Hebrew linguist who spent much of the past decade in the Middle East as a soldier or civilian intelligence specialist, and was part of the search for weapons of mass destruction after the fall of Iraq.
“He said a lot of times they just found the floor covered with ashes because they burned everything,” said his wife, Lynne Pine, 47, of San Antonio.
The Pines came to San Antonio when Rachel began kindergarten and then left the same year, but returned as their daughter began the fourth grade at Scobee Elementary.
He served in a counterintelligence detachment at Fort Sam Houston and commanded the Army Reserve’s Austin-based 300th Military Intelligence Company from 1999 to 2002.
The unit now is defunct.
“He was the best commander I’ve ever served with, and I mean served with — not served for. He always put the soldier first, always,” said retired Army 1st Sgt. Rex Pierce, 45, of Boerne. “He had a rare quality of taking care of soldiers to the point where they wanted to serve.”
That was true if a soldier had financial trouble. Pierce said Pine would first go through Army channels, but if that didn’t work he would quietly make loans to his own troops — not expecting to get the money back.
That was typical of Pine, who has a son, Guy, 15.
“One of his close friends over there e-mailed me and told me he saw him empty his wallet countless times,” said his daughter, Talya Pine, a 17-year-old high school junior in Pflugerville, north of Austin.
In what may have been his last act of charity, Pine asked his daughter Rachel, a former GI living in Fort Riley, Kan., to send a “care package” of baby clothes to Afghanistan. The clothes were for an interpreter who was going to be a dad.
“He was killed before (the package) got there,” she said, “but the casualty assistance officers made sure that it got to my dad’ s interpreter to ensure the baby still had clothes.”