by Bill Hammerstrom | Editor
Hudson — A local police officer’s wife is grateful to the city and its police department for their support during her husband’s deployment to Afghanistan as a U.S. Army Reservist.
Members of the Hudson Police Department and city officials say they are equally thankful for Staff Sgt. Walter Shields’ service to his country and community.
Shields, 42, a Hudson police officer, is presently deployed in Afghanistan with the 373rd Quartermaster unit out of Jeffersonville, Ind., although he is a staff sergeant with Army Reserve Unit 319 Quartermaster Battalion of the U.S. Army Reserve in Twinsburg. He is a petroleum laboratory specialist.
“Walter Shields is a valuable officer and we are proud of the service he’s given to the country in his two tours of duty,” said City Communications Manager Jody Roberts.
Shields also was in Kuwait and Iraq in 2008 with the Coast Guard Reserve Port Security Unit 309 out of Port Clinton.
“I just wanted the people of the Hudson community to know that the safety forces in Hudson are very supportive and caring people,” said his wife, Lori Shields. “Not all of the Reservist personnel, no matter what branch of service, get the support from their employers like Walt has with the city of Hudson.”
Volunteers from the community and the police department have helped by donating money, maintaining the landscaping at his Boston Township home, and sending Shields messages of support.
Hudson Police Detective Kaija Jeantet is collecting DVDs and snacks to send overseas to Shields.
The police department donated enough to fill two care packages — one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas, she said. She welcomes donations at the Hudson Police Station and hopes to be able to send one package each month.
“I’ve never really worked with anyone who is so involved in his work and his service,” Jeantet said, describing Shields as “inspirational.”
“We’re very grateful for his service, both here and there.”
In addition, the city compensates its employees when they are called into active military duty, making up the difference between a city employee’s salary and military pay. City Council approved the measure to do so in 2008 when Shields was preparing for his deployment to Kuwait.
“The City Council and city administrative staff definitely supports soldiers,” Roberts said. “We want to make it as easy as possible for them while they’re serving overseas.”
Shields has been with the Hudson Police Department for 15 years. He is also a volunteer Hudson firefighter, a part-time ride-along EMT volunteer with Hudson EMS, and a member of the Summit County Hazardous Materials Response Team.
Shields started his military career with the Pennsylvania National Guard in 1994 and then took a few years off from the military when he was training to be a police officer, according to his wife. In 2003, he joined the Coast Guard Reserve Port Security Unit 309, then in 2010 joined the Army Reserves.
The Association of the U.S. Army Newton D. Baker Chapter honored Shields as its “Soldier of the Year 2012” in June.
Baker Chapter President Ronald Schwachenwald cited Shields for his “exceptional service in support of our national defense, as demonstrated numerous times in operations while deployed in Iraq.” Schwachenwald also praised “his devotion to duty, unwavering loyalty, willingness to protect the freedoms of this nation, and his distinguished meritorious service.”
Shields and his wife have lived in Boston Township for the past 12 years and have an adopted Siberian husky named Hannah.
Lori expected to hear from her husband on Thanksgiving. She says faith gets her through difficult times when she worries about Walt.
“I will not lie. It is scary, but I know that he is in the Lord’s hands and the Lord will bring him home safely to me,” she said.