Created from official military reports, research, and dozens of interviews with family members, fellow soldiers, friends, and community members, Shieldmaiden captures the life and times of Sgt. Devin A. Snyder, the only female soldier from Western New York killed during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Snyder was part of a military police battalion assigned to train Afghan National Police in peacekeeping duties in order to prevent the return of the Taliban and other Islamic Fundamentalist groups. She and four others were killed when an IED struck their convoy on June 4, 2011.
The shockwave from that blast traveled ever outward, tearing through the military and sending a wave of grief into the small town where Devin grew up. Though the people of
Western New York did not expect the Global War on Terror to come to rural America, it did. The Snyders have come through despair and hopelessness and now are convinced that Devin’s spirit watches over them like the bald eagle that circled the skies above her funeral. In order to turn a personal tragedy into a public service, the Snyders started the Sgt. Devin A. Snyder Memorial Foundation, which supports veteran’s service organizations and local law enforcement. They hold a motorcycle rally each year to raise money and work to keep their daughter’s memory alive. Bearing their grief hasn’t gotten much easier, but they have come to know that the best way to honor the dead is to try to live a good life.
Dan Folts is a freelance writer and high school English teacher at Wayland-Cohocton High School, the school where Devin Snyder graduated. This is his first book.