Lawyer returns from serving in Afghanistan, Iraq

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Augusta's reluctant hero is back.

Shawn Hammond stands with Afghan children in this photo taken in August 2006. The Augusta attorney spent a year in Afghanistan after being called up by the Army 12 years after he last served.  Special
Special
Shawn Hammond stands with Afghan children in this photo taken in August 2006. The Augusta attorney spent a year in Afghanistan after being called up by the Army 12 years after he last served.

After a year in Afghanistan and four more months in Iraq, 1st Lt. Shawn Hammond, an Augusta attorney, is home again.

"Look at this - this is the one I'm most proud of," he said of the combat infantryman's badge on his chest. "Doug (Flanagan) and I are the only two lawyers in Augusta who have this."

It is the only medal a soldier is allowed to wear when not in full dress uniform, he explained.

In January 2006, the Army re-activated Lt. Hammond over his protests that he was overweight, a single parent of three and in private practice. The Army didn't care that 12 years had passed since he had served. He had military combat experience.

By April 2006 he was "MoHammond," the man in charge of training a 52-man unit of the Afghan National Army. He led more than 50 combat missions throughout Afghanistan, his colonel wrote in support of awarding Lt. Hammond a Bronze Star.

His friends and acquaintances back in Augusta held their breath when Lt. Hammond e-mailed details of the December attack on Camp Joyce on the Pakistan border. Taliban forces rained mortar and machine-gun fire from the mountain ridge above the camp. They rejoiced in learning of his safe return after assisting in the capture of the Taliban warlord Said Mir.

"It was cool guy stuff, but I'm a dad now," Lt. Hammond said in his dining room in Columbia County.

When not in combat, Lt. Hammond stopped massive amounts of fraud and waste of supplies in Kandak; helped soldiers with legal troubles from home; and donated time and gathered supplies for Afghan schools, hospitals and villages.

"Training, helping soldiers, then patrols," Lt. Hammond said. It made for full days, he said.

As a year passed, he and his family began to think about life after his service. But not yet, the Army said. There was a surge in Iraq, and Lt. Hammond got new orders.

He made it home this month after more than a year away. Now he starts over from scratch with a new law practice, he said.

He has 90 days to decide whether he wants to stay in the Reserves. If he does, he can keep the health insurance for another five years. That's important with three children, Lt. Hammond said.

After being a divorce lawyer for 10 years, exchanging gunfire with the Taliban didn't seem that bad, he joked.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

SHAWN HAMMOND

AGE: 40

FAMILY: Father of three

OCCUPATION: Augusta attorney who had to spend about $1,000 to buy his own combat gear

Comments (95) Add comment
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Queen4842
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Queen4842 07/23/07 - 06:57 pm
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WELCOME HOME!!!!!! Glad you

WELCOME HOME!!!!!! Glad you made it back safe and sound and I am sure your family is trilled to have you here!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for your sacrifice.

_kpc_
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_kpc_ 07/23/07 - 06:59 pm
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I guess I was wrong.....Cain

I guess I was wrong.....Cain said it twice, so it must be so. You never change. What a shame. One to be pittied. Why is it when I dissagree...it's denial. When you dissagree....you MUST be right. It's called arrogance. Keep on regurgitating....maybe you can make it true some day.

Eric
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Eric 07/23/07 - 07:12 pm
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KPC, you'll never win against

KPC, you'll never win against this idiot. It ain't worth it!

_kpc_
22
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_kpc_ 07/23/07 - 07:15 pm
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tbenn54...you are correct. He

tbenn54...you are correct. He doesn't know the definition of "win" anyway. That's why he says the war is unwillable. It's fun to spin him up though. Actually, since his values are so twisted...I believe I DID win.

sjgraci
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sjgraci 07/23/07 - 07:16 pm
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I have far more respect for

I have far more respect for people that oppose a war and choose to better their lives and community by getting an education than I do the chickenhawks that are the cheerleaders for war and yet don't fight by hiding in the guard or behind college deferments during a draft or behind their keyboards today. If the war in Iraq is truly worth fighting and dying for in this country there should be a draft. All of eligible age should be drafted equally. No deferments. A just war calls for sacrifice from all and all will. The only ones sacrificing in this war are the troops and their families. Bring back the draft and the unjust war in Iraq will end quickly.

_kpc_
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_kpc_ 07/23/07 - 07:26 pm
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Why should there be a draft

Why should there be a draft if there are ample volunteers? That makes no sense. I'm glad to see that you think Cain is a Chickenhawk though.

_kpc_
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_kpc_ 07/23/07 - 07:30 pm
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sjgraci, so you believe women

sjgraci, so you believe women should be drafted as well? Just curious.

bone
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bone 07/23/07 - 08:05 pm
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sjgraci, you usually don't

sjgraci, you usually don't stoop so low as to call military members lesser than those who chose a college deferment to avoid military service. tragic that you would make such a vapid assertion. i hope that the majority of historians are able to continue writing their histories and they find that none of what bush did was relevant to world affairs. of course, we'll never know the opposite: if bush did nothing in the middle east, what would the world be like now? that is the big difference, isn't it: "chickenhawks" such as lt. hammond believe in the overall good achieved by their mission; anti-war liberals such as JRHC believe the world was destined for peace. i hope that the world appreciates the price paid by u.s. servicemen and women - the islamic world is still a danger, but with a strong presence in the middle east their influence is confined. i honestly don't believe that iran is a target anymore: pakistan, however, concerns me greatly since there are unchecked AQ training camps operating in their territories. wmds? uh, check the "yes" box on this one for sure.

Eric
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Eric 07/23/07 - 08:07 pm
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sj, study the military and

sj, study the military and their doctrine before you make stupid comments about the draft. It's called an all volunteer military for a reason. I have not made a statement either way towards this war we are in now because trying to fight it here is as stupid as your comment about the draft. And yes, I have served my country. In the USMC. I didn't have to go to war; but, I would have proudly and upheld the statements I made when I was sworn in. That's what these men and women are doing today. If you know so much about how to fight a war, why aren't the powers that be calling you every day asking you what they should do. You have the right to your opinion; but, you need to back it up with facts.

t of i
25
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t of i 07/23/07 - 08:45 pm
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Lt. Hammond, I am a baby

Lt. Hammond, I am a baby boomer, born early in 1947 after my father returned from the Pacific. He married my mother a week before he was to go overseas. Upon returning he resumed his college education. He was too young to join up when the war first broke out. He and friends went to Canada to try to enlist. He remained in the Reserves for years. Thank you so much and all of the others who serve your (our) country. I can't thank my Daddy now, but I can thank you and the rest of you who read this.

bone
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bone 07/23/07 - 09:17 pm
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t of i, you honor your father

t of i, you honor your father so much with your post.

t of i
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t of i 07/23/07 - 09:30 pm
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Thank you, bone, my dad

Thank you, bone, my dad didn't want to talk about his service that much as I was growing up. It went without saying that it was the right thing to do.

bone
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bone 07/23/07 - 09:31 pm
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jake, is there a chance that

jake, is there a chance that it was better to open Pandora's Box under our own volition rather than wait for the inevitable opening at the hands of either (1) a wahabi extremist or (2) a despot looking for a land grab (saddam or ahmeninejad)? i would rather the opening occur in some country other than our own (france, if you want the truth).

bone
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bone 07/23/07 - 09:43 pm
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ah, but that's the rub:

ah, but that's the rub: sitting here in our comfy little confines we believed that the goofballs in the middle east were going to keep Pandora's Box (the evils of the world) confined to their area. and then 9/11 happened. i would rather err on the side of turning the arab/muslim countries into parking lots rather than wait to see if they unleash some other awful hell on us or our allies.

bone
23
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bone 07/23/07 - 09:43 pm
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the france comment was a joke

the france comment was a joke

t of i
25
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t of i 07/23/07 - 09:43 pm
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Jake, I won't disagree with

Jake, I won't disagree with you. Lt. Hammond did his duty and he should be appreciated and commended for it. Pandora's Box has been opened, perhaps wrongly, but it has none the less been opened and must be dealt with. In what way, I don't know. Better minds than mine need to solve that problem.

t of i
25
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t of i 07/23/07 - 09:46 pm
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I was really slow to answer.

I was really slow to answer. What I said does not fit in with where you all have gone. Bone, go back to the 8:30 comment and then read mine.

bone
23
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bone 07/23/07 - 09:50 pm
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i read your comments, t of i.

i read your comments, t of i. regardless of your stance on the legality or necessity of the middle eastern conflict that is going on now, you seem to acknowledge that we are the only country in a position to check the insanity of radical islamic states & crazy despots (ahmeninejad or hussein). whether we like it or not, the world needs us to stand firm.

t of i
25
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t of i 07/23/07 - 09:59 pm
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Jake, would you, could you

Jake, would you, could you have agreed with the atomic bombing of two cities in Japan at that time and place? Those were very tough decisions that someone had to make. This is just a question. I'm testing the current temperature of the waters. I'm not advocating genocide. This is a give and take exchange of ideas.

sjgraci
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sjgraci 07/23/07 - 10:06 pm
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There are not enough

There are not enough volunteers now. As it was stated in this very article, Lt. Hammond was called up through the back door draft. On top of that I know several in the military that can not get out due to "stop-loss". Some of them are in Iraq now yet their contracts are up. The units' tours have been extended to 15 months, Lt. Hammond served 16 in combat. Jake did a 12 month tour in Nam and you did 8 months (two of whitch were during actual fighting) in the Gulf War. You know the stress this brings on the personnel, their families, and equipment. Troops are going back to their third, fourth, and fifth tours. I know someone going back for his third, he's Infantry. The military is nowhere close to the size it was during the Gulf War. There are not enough units. Military recruitment has struggled and the standards have been lowered. Yes, women of all socio-economic classes should register for Selective Service and be drafted. GLB and undocumented workers too. Cain is not a Chickenhawk. He does not even fit the definition. Vocal war proponents Bush for getting preferential treatment into a cushy job in the Guard with no chance of combat and Dick Cheney with his deferments are.

sjgraci
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sjgraci 07/23/07 - 10:14 pm
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Bring back the draft and give

Bring back the draft and give the children of all congressman, senators, and the administration lottery number 1 and you know what will happen. Unless there is a war as significant as WWII there will be very few wars waged like the one in Iraq has. The American people, and politicians, won't stand for it.

t of i
25
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t of i 07/23/07 - 10:43 pm
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Sorry, Lt. Hammond, to have

Sorry, Lt. Hammond, to have opened yet this latest can of worms on a thread that should have been only for welcoming you home. All discussion of the rights and wrongs of the war you fought in should have been for somewhere else, not here.

t of i
25
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t of i 07/23/07 - 10:48 pm
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Jake, I appreciate having

Jake, I appreciate having the chance to have this discourse with you. The exchange of ideas is very enlightening. I agree with your 9:09 post. Not every historic decision is right for all time.

t of i
25
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t of i 07/23/07 - 11:05 pm
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Jake, what are you saying to

Jake, what are you saying to me? Are you saying that I am wrong in advocating that a discussion of the merits of this war should be discussed elsewhere? I think there are a lot of threads here where certian discussions that come about should more appropriately be discussed elsewhere. Chalk is it up to my age and upbringing. I too am certain that a little discussion on this website will not bother him. It bothers me, though. Don't protest at a soldier's funeral. Everyone is entiltled to their opininon and their right to express it. But I was rasied to choose the right time and forum.

sjgraci
2
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sjgraci 07/23/07 - 11:11 pm
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Oh and BONE, go back and read

Oh and BONE, go back and read my post. First and most importantly, Lt. Hammond is not a chickenhawk. The only military members I have a problem with are vocal supporters of a war who join the Guard to avoid the war and draft. Yes, they are lower scum than even war supporters that used college deferments not to fight because they are phony cowards. The college war hawks and anal cyst medical exemptees are merely cowards. They are the chickenhawks. War opponents that went to college or joined the guard to avoid war or draft have far more courage and character than the chickenhawks. Of course, those that actually went to combat, drafted or volunteer, are the most courageous of all.

t of i
25
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t of i 07/23/07 - 11:38 pm
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sjgraci, please enlighten me.

sjgraci, please enlighten me. How would you classify my husband? In 1965 he applied for a naval rotc sholarhip to help pay for college and to insure that when he served he would serve as an educated person. In his case, in Viet Nam, as a civil engineer and surveyor, he would have been out front with transit and gun. He had a student deferrment to get him to that point. Due to a congenital health problem, he was denied the ROTC scholarship. He attended Georgia Tech and majored in Civil Engineering. In 1969, a year after we were married we moved to Aiken, job in hand and baby on the way. Induction notice comes. The same doctor's info that kept him from getting into ROTC kept him from going in as a buck private in 1969. He was willing to take on the responsibility. sjgraci, there are plenty of courageous people who didnt get the chance to go to combat. Please don't discount them. You and others also need to understand that way back then, 1965 and before, the situation in Viet Nam was a small speck on the radar screen. The draft was in force and most people did not have worry about going to Viet Nam. That came later. And early on, most who had to go, had no qualms about it. cont

t of i
25
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t of i 07/23/07 - 11:57 pm
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later

later

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 07/24/07 - 12:07 am
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t of i, this isn't about your

t of i, this isn't about your father enlisting in WWII in 1941 or your
husband's medical deferment in 1965. This is post Vietnam war era. It
is also post Cold War era. Unfortunately it is also post 9/11 which is
used to justify any American military action imaginable. I would like
to ask 1st Lt. Shawn Hammond if he is confident his actions did not
result in civilians being killing in Afghanistan. There have been
numerous instances of such "accidents" in both Iraq & Afghanistan
where Prime Minister Hamid Karzai has repeatedly protested to US &
NATO. "Afghan lives are not cheap or less valuable than American lives"
Karzai has repeatedly asserted. After Vietnam we should have been too
mature as a people to get sucked into another civil war which we cannot
police & we cannot win. We are not only fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq.
We are also fighting Sunni Baathist militants & Shiite militias
like Moqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army. We don't know who is friend or foe
in Iraq. We don't speak the language, know their history, share their
religion, or understand the political undercurrents. We are babes in
the woods who are making it up as we go along. 20 year old American
"volunteers" pay the price.

sjgraci
2
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sjgraci 07/24/07 - 12:49 am
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t of i, I do not "discount"

t of i, I do not "discount" your husband or others who could not serve though they wanted to because of medical problems. I do "discount" the vocal war supporters, now and in the '60s, who were medically ineligible for bogus ailments. Rush Limbaugh and his anal cyst, Ted Nugent and his urine and feces stained pants, and College Republicans who won't join the military because of a "football injury" are examples. They are classic chickenhawks and total cowards.

_kpc_
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_kpc_ 07/24/07 - 04:41 am
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sjgraci....Cain hid behind

sjgraci....Cain hid behind the same college deferment you said the chickenhawks did. Why is he exempt from your definition? Is it because he's not a republican?

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