Nephew shot by sniper in Iraq, was able to warn others
With Memorial Day approaching, Nanette Lowry of Marion has put up a statue to commemorate all soldiers who have been killed in action, but it isn’t a seasonal decoration to be put out at Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
“I don’t ever want us to forget,” Lowry said.
The wood carving, “The Fallen Soldier,” was made especially in memory of her nephew, Spc. Robert Unruh.
“We’re coming up on the 10-year anniversary,” Lowry said.
Unruh was shot by a sniper Sept. 25, 2004, while on guard duty in Al Anbar province of Iraq. Lowry said he was able to shout a warning to his fellow soldiers so they could withstand the attack. Unruh was the only casualty of that combat.
Lowry flew out to Tucson to be with her sister, Karen Unruh-Wahrer, when she identified his body. Unruh-Wahrer was heartbroken when she saw him.
“Nine hours later she was dead in my arms,” Lowry said. “Our family will never be the same, ever.”
News of Unruh’s death and Unruh-Wahrer’s subsequent death made headlines locally and internationally. Lowry keeps an album of newspaper articles she saved, along with photos of Unruh.
Unruh, who attended kindergarten in Marion, was 25 when he was killed. He enlisted after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and was a fourth-generation soldier.
“He died doing what he believed, and we backed him 100 percent,” Lowry said.
Rick Sardou carved the statue out of red cedar with a chain saw. It shows a soldier’s boots, rifle, and helmet and an American flag, with Unruh’s name carved into the pedestal. Lowry said there aren’t any other hidden symbols. It’s a straightforward memorial to Unruh and all soldiers.
Lowry said she wants people to honor the sacrifices of soldiers who are killed in action by taking care of all the veterans who do come home.