Shaun A Novak

This memorial website was created in the memory of our loved one, Army Specialist Shaun Allen Novak who was born in Two Rivers, Wisconsin on February 12, 1985 and passed away on August 27, 2006 at the age of 21. Shaun was our lover, son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and, most of all, our friend. We will remember him forever.

Shaun was the first child born to Randy and Brenda (Mott) Novak. Later he was joined by a younger brother, Danny. He was a fun-loving and outgoing young man who was always a joy to have around.

While in high school Shaun enjoyed playing basketball in a local rec league. He spent his time working at Port Sandy Bay making pizzas and earning money to spend on his beloved Dodge Neon. Video games and all other electronic gadgets were also an important part of Shaun’s life.

After graduating from Two Rivers High School in 2003 Shaun attended UW-Manitowoc. However; after a year of college he decided to postpone his educational career to join the United States Army. His decision to enlist was also a decision to follow in the footsteps of Shaun’s own hero, his grandfather Stanley Mott, a Korean War Veteran. Shaun enlisted in the summer of 2004, leaving for basic training at Fort Benning, GA on Aug. 24, 2004.

Upon completing basic training Shaun was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Hood, TX. Luckily some of Shaun’s best “army friends” were stationed there along with him, making for an easier time adjusting to living away from home and many good memories. In May of 2005 Shaun’s girlfriend moved to Texas to be with him for the summer; together they created many cherished memories.

On December 12, 2005 Shaun left Ft. Hood, TX for his first deployment, spending the rest of December in Kuwait before arriving in Iraq on January 1, 2006 where he was stationed just north of Baghdad in Taji, Iraq.

In April 2006 Shaun came home one final time on a two week R&R from Iraq. The two weeks flew by with Shaun spending all of his time with his girlfriend, friends and family. Between the bonfires, Brewer games, dinners and late-night talks many happy memories were made in this short span of time. During his R&R Shaun spoke often of his future dreams; returning to school, someday owning the business his Auntie and Dean now own, marrying Jennisa and spending as much time as possible with his family and friends upon his return to the USA.

Upon returning to Iraq after R&R it was back to business. As in the first half Shaun called or emailed nearly every day, always assuring those he loved that he was fine, nothing was happening and there was no need to worry about him. He was extremely humble in believing himself not to be a hero, but rather just a normal guy who was “just doing my job.”

On Sunday August 27, 2006 Shaun’s loved ones received the worst news imaginable; Shaun had been killed by an IED. It is a day that will forever be etched into the minds of all of those who loved Shaun; it is the day that changed everything.

On Thursday, September 7, 2006 Shaun’s family & friends welcomed him home a true hero. Visitation was held on Friday, September 8 and continued on Saturday, September 9 followed by a beautiful funeral procession and burial which was attended by many, including those who never knew Shaun. While Shaun would have been embarrassed by all of the attention and insisted he was not the hero he was being made out to be but instead “just a normal guy doing my job” everyone knows the truth; Shaun was and will forever be…a HERO in the truest sense.

During his time of service Shaun received the following awards:
Purple Heart
Bronze Star
Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Ribbon
Iraqi Campaign Medal
Global War on Terror Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Ribbon
Combat Infantry Badge
Expert Qualification Badge

Shaun will be sadly missed by his family, his girlfriend, his close friends and everyone whose lives he touched here and while serving his country. While his time here was short, we are thankful for and will cherish forever the many great memories Shaun has left us with. While he may be gone, he will never be forgotten.

A memorial fund has been set up in memory of Shaun in order to erect a permanent memorial in his honor. Those wishing to donate may do so by visiting or sending donations to the following address:
Shaun Novak Memorial Fund
C/O Shoreline Credit Union
PO Box 27
Two Rivers, WI 54241

Army Spc. Shaun A. Novak, 21, of Two Rivers, Wis.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; killed Aug. 27 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his M2A3 Bradley Vehicle during combat operations in Taji, Iraq. Also killed were Spc. Tristan C. Smith, Spc. Qixing Lee and Sgt. Moises Jazmin. Shaun was a true hero to everyone who knew and loved him. He was a young man who made a commitment in his life and a commitment to a mission. He was truly an example of what is good in young people at a time when our country has many needs. He followed in the footsteps of his grandfather: Stanley Mott, a Korean War veteran, and several family members and friends who entered service to their country.

His commitment served as an example for his childhood friend, Brandon Monka of Two Rivers, who followed his lead and is currently serving in Baghdad, Iraq. Novak enjoyed working on cars outside of school and he was all excited about driving a Hummer in the military. He is survived by his father, Randy, a Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department deputy; his mother, Brenda, an employee of the Manitowoc County Human Services Department; and a brother, Danny. He was 21.

TWO RIVERS — U.S. Army Spc. Shaun Novak’s dog tags hang from a bronze rifle at the new Armed Forces Memorial unveiled Saturday afternoon at Holy Cross-Forest View Cemetery.

“Shaun would be embarrassed by all the attention he’s received,” his father, Randy Novak, told a gathering of about 300.

A Two Rivers native and Two Rivers High School graduate, Novak, 21, was killed by a roadside bomb in Taji, Iraq, on Aug. 27, 2006.

“Shaun enlisted for the love of his country, not to be a hero,” Randy Novak said. “Too many men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice … no veteran should ever go unthanked or forgotten.”

Indeed, the memorial is designed to do just that — provide a dignified setting for individuals to reflect on the service to country by all veterans, living or deceased, from all military branches.

Before Novak’s remarks, the flags of the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Marines were run up poles behind a short granite wall by active or retired members of the five branches.

“It is everyone’s memorial. It took a community to build it,” said Dean Halverson, one of Shaun’s uncles, who served as the master of ceremonies for the dedication program.

“Those in the family feel like a door is closing, but memories of Shaun don’t need to be forgotten,” Halverson said.

He said about $75,000 was raised to build the memorial, which features a kneeling soldier paying respect to a fallen comrade, symbolized by a pair of empty combat boots, folded American flag, and an M-16 rifle with bayonet thrust into a sandbag. The elements weigh about 700 pounds.

Mixed feelings
“It’s nice to have the memorial done, and in such a serene setting … it’s a bittersweet day,” said Jenissa Karbowski, Novak’s former longtime girlfriend who admitted to mixed feelings.

She is performing a teaching internship in an eighth-grade geography class at Washington Junior High School in Manitowoc, after completing her bachelor’s degree studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

She regularly updates a tribute Web site, www.shaun-novak.memory-of.com.

On what would have been Novak’s 23rd birthday, Feb. 12, 2008, Karbowski posted, “…please let me wake up and realize this has been a long, drawn out, horrible dream.

“It can’t be true. How could someone who meant so much to me just all of a sudden be gone? It doesn’t make sense … and it never will.

“As long as I live, I will never be whole again. Only when we meet again in the next place will I finally have the piece of me that has been missing,” Karbowski wrote.

Among those paying tribute to Novak and all veterans were several dozen Patriot Guard Riders, a 3-year-old organization with about 140,000 members nationwide.

At the request of grieving families, they form “circles of comfort” at services honoring military personnel.

A medic during the Vietnam War, Mike Weaver was wearing his Patriot Guard Rider’s vest with their motto, “Standing for those who stood for US.”

Weaver said he has volunteered for many causes, “but nothing compares to this. We come to provide care and compassion,” he said.

‘More than words can say’
Halverson said that he, like many people, had a certain degree of apathy when it came to sacrifices made by those serving in Iraq, until his nephew’s death.

“But never again,” he said, noting the planning and fundraising for a tribute to all those in uniform began shortly after Novak’s death.

Halverson reflected on the words, sung by the Clipper City Chordsmen, to the song, “God Bless the U.S.A.” — “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.”

“We are here to celebrate the service and sacrifice of all families and individuals who have served or continue to serve,” Halverson said.

He quoted Abraham Lincoln, “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”

That would be a sentiment shared by the fallen soldier’s mother, Brenda Novak.

At the tribute Web site, she created this entry: “As we remember you today at the Spc. Shaun Novak-Armed Forces Memorial, we couldn’t be more proud of you … the day is about you and what you sacrificed for us, our country and our freedom.

“We think of you today with pride and we love you more than words can say.”

Contributions are welcomed for memorial upkeep and scholarships. Donations can be made to: The Shaun Novak Memorial Fund, c/o Shoreline Credit Union, P.O. Box 27, Two Rivers, WI 54241.

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Two Rivers
Age: 21
Incident Location: Taji, Iraq
Branch: Army
Rank: Spc.
Unit: 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division
Units Base: Fort Hood, Texas