Shilling memorialized with battlefield cross in Reed City

REED CITY — In a room packed full of patriotic families and friends of a fallen soldier stood shoulder-to-shoulder.

Melissa Shilling showed the statue — a battlefield cross — she and her family raised money for, at the Reed City Depot Community Meeting Room on Saturday.

The battlefield cross is a soldier’s rifle between two boots with a helmet on top and will help memorialize Army Spc. Bradley Shilling. Brad was killed Nov. 18, 2006, while serving in southeastern Baghdad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“It was a bigger turnout than expected,” Melissa said. “It just proves there are great people in the community and they miss their soldiers too.”

Others missing Brad, or their own soldiers, were asked to come and share memories, including Ryan Bansemer, who was a sergeant at the time Brad was killed.

“He always had a smile on his face,” Bansemer said. “He could be getting in trouble from a senior officer and still be smiling.”

The statue was turned over to Reed City officials to be placed in a veterans memorial park when the city builds one.

“Originally, I had asked (officials) to put up a statue for fallen soldiers,” Melissa said. “That spearheaded conversations about a veterans park.”

Reed City Manager Ron Howell said a few locations for the park are being considered.

“When we do this, we want to do it right,” said Mayor Karen McKinney about creating a park.