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WWII Veteran - Member and hero of the Greatest Generation Mr. Robert Daniel Shields died at home in Tappan, NY on January 17, 2010 after a long illness. He was 89 at the time of his death and was surrounded by those he loved and those who loved him.
     On the Eve of the Normandy Invasion, the 5th of June 1944, then SSG Shields, a pathfinder, parachuted into St. Mere Eglise, France behind German lines. The plane was struck by enemy fire and his group jumped at an extremely low altitude. SSG Shields' parachute got caught on the roof gable of a French house and he was forced to cut his way out of the parachute harness. A quick dash into another French house almost led to his capture as German soldiers questioned the occupants of the house and they pointed in the direction of SSG Shields and yelled "Americana". SSG Shields jumped through a window and as he stumbled away from the building, he landed in a German observation post where he was forced to kill an enemy soldier
     With the help of his comrades in HHC, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division, the observation post was eliminated. During the ferocious combat in and around Chef Du Pont, SSG Shields was captured, beaten and then escaped to rejoin his comrades.
     On September 17th, 1944 he again parachuted into combat, this time in Holland as part of Operation Market Garden, sometimes referred to as "The Bridge Too Far". In the fierce fighting around the Nijmegen Bridge he was again wounded.
     Upon recovery from his wounds he rejoined his unit in time to fight in the Battle of the Bulge where he received a Battlefield Commission to Lieutenant. In this fighting, his unit was sent to the relief of the surrounded 101st Airborne Division. His brother George, assigned to the 101st Airborne Division was with the surrounded unit and was wounded in the Battle.
     Mr. Shields was awarded numerous military decorations including: two Bronze Stars with "V" device for valor, the Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge and Senior Army Parachute wings with two combat stars.
     Upon cessation of hostilities, Lieutenant Shields was assigned to General Dwight D. Eisenhower's Honor Guard and upon return to Sparkill, NY in January 1946, he became an Army Reservist assigned to Company A, an engineer company in the 860th Aviation Engineer Battalion where he continued to serve for 16 years.
     Mr. Shields was born on August 2nd, 1920 to Robert A. and Lillian Parsels Shields in Sparkill, NY. He was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, George Shields, and a sister, Eleanor Stroud. He is survived by his sisters, Ruth Dizzine and Etta Behrens.
     Mr. Shields graduated from Tappan Zee High School, Piermont, N.Y. in June 1939 and began work at Lederle Laboratories in Pearl River NY in 1946, after leaving the service. Prior to departing for military service, he met Mae E. Thompson, first president of the union at Lederle. Mr. Shields joined the Army in 1942 and married Mae on August 22d, 1943 before he deployed to the United Kingdom to prepare for the D Day invasion. Mrs. Mae E. Shields preceded him in death in 1998.
     Mr. Shields worked at Lederle Laboratories from April 1946 to December 1980. He began as a carpenter who was eventually promoted to Department Head for Plant Maintenance and later to Plant Sanitation Manager. Mr. Shields began a part time career with the Rockland County Sheriff's Dept. in 1952 serving with distinction as a firearms instructor and training officer. He further attained the title of Senior Firearms Instructor with the Police Academy. He was still active as an officer in 2008 holding the rank of Sergeant. Sgt. Shields held the distinction of the longest standing officer in the history of the Rockland County Sheriff's Department for 56 years.
     His hobbies and associations after the War are too numerous to detail and included a 6 year stint as a pilot and commander of the 1st Civil Air Patrol Squadron in Blauvelt, New York. Throughout this period he continued to enjoy skydiving and accumulated just over 300 parachute jumps. His skill as a gunsmith and as a firearms instructor are well known throughout Rockland and surrounding Counties. He worked tirelessly to promote gun safety and was a strong advocate of wildlife conservation. In May of 2006 the New York State Fish and Wildlife Board presented Mr. Shields with a Certificate recognizing over 40 years of faithful service to the Board and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. In addition, he has received well over 50 distinguished service awards and Certificates of Appreciation from the many organizations he has represented including a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition.
     Mr. Shields was married to Mrs. Barbara Shields on December 7th, 2001. In addition to family members already mentioned, he is survived by 3 children: Colonel (Retired) Robert G. Shields, Carol A. Laskos and Debra R. Morano; two step children: Susan D. Shields Furchak and Frances M. Shields Dedeian; four grandchildren: Captain Sean Shields, SSG Robert D. Shields, Cadet (West Point) Terrence H. Shields, and Ameila M. Shields; two great grandchildren: Robert G. and Adrianna Shields and two step-grandchildren: Michaila Furchak and Lily Dedeian.
     Friends and family may pay respects at Moritz Funeral Home in Tappan, NY from 2 - 4 pm and 7 - 9 pm on Tuesday, January 19 and Wednesday, January 20. Funeral Services will be held on Thursday, January 21, at the Rockland County Fire Training Center at 35 Fireman's Memorial Drive, Pomona, NY at 10:00 am with graveside services to follow at the Rockland Cemetery, Kings Highway, Sparkill, NY.
     Friends and family are invited to gather at The Pearl River Elks Club on 2041 Elks Drive, Nanuet, NY. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations to be made in Mr. Shields' memory to the Wounded Warrior Project at www.woundedwarriorproject. org . The Wounded Warrior Project is an organization that is helping our wounded soldiers.

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