Hagerstown man named Veteran of the Year

Fred Shinbur battles to ensure the rights of Western Maryland's veterans

February 16, 2011|By DAN DEARTH |
  • Fred Shinbur was named the Joint Veterans Commission of Maryland Veteran of the Year.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Fred Shinbur has made the U. S. military a lifelong calling.

Even after he retired in 2003 with nearly 36 years of service, Shinbur continued to serve veterans by helping to protect their benefits as a member of the Maryland Veterans Commission.

In 2010, he received recognition from the Joint Veterans Committee of Maryland by being named that organization's Veteran of the Year.

Shinbur, 65, said he is to accept the honor March 19 during a banquet in Bowie, Md.

"I was speechless in November when I was selected," Shinbur said. "I didn't even know I was nominated."

Shinbur said the title of Veteran of the Year doesn't carry any official duties — it's just an honor that recognizes his commitment to veterans causes.

As an active member and former chairman of the Maryland Veterans Commission, Shinbur has testified before the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis to advocate for veterans' rights. Some of his more recent testimony involved fighting to keep the state from taxing the retirement pay of veterans, he said.

Shinbur said he battles to ensure the rights of Western Maryland's veterans are protected equally with those from Baltimore and Prince George's County, who Shinbur said receive the bulk of attention from the state.

"There's just not a lot of recognition for Western Maryland veterans," he said. "I want them to know someone is fighting for them."

Shinbur said he was 22 when he was drafted by the Army in 1967. He received training at Army posts in Texas and Louisiana before being shipped to Vietnam, where he served as an infantryman from 1968-69.

Shinbur said he fought in the Tet Offensive and was awarded the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star, among other decorations. But it was receiving the Combat Infantryman Badge that was his highest achievement.

"That is the most important event that had happened to me," Shinbur said. "I guess it's because of the criteria and the history. There's a recognition ... It's kind of a been there done that — I've walked the walk and talked the talk."

The Combat Infantryman Badge is given to soldiers who fought in ground combat.

Shinbur said a lot of veterans aren't aware of the benefits that they're entitled to receive.

"They've sacrificed," he said. "I have my health. I have my contacts. I have that knowledge to help them out."

Among other organizations, Shinbur is a life member of American Veterans, the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

A retired warrant officer, Shinbur lives in Hagerstown with his wife, Jean. They have four children and nine grandchildren.

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