Christian O’Shea’s daughter Miranda, left, his wife, Rhonda, and his son Matthew stand in front of a blue lawn chair Tuesday from which O’Shea enjoyed watching the sunset at his home in Pownal. O’Shea, a Marine who passed away from cancer in July, is being honored at a Veterans Day ceremony Wednesday at Veterans Park in Lewiston. O’Shea’s oldest son Joel is not pictured. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

POWNAL — Christian O’Shea’s military career was cut short after 18 months due to a medical discharge.

He was a lance corporal and a squad leader in the Marine Corps before receiving an honorable discharge in 1992 for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Unable to get his military benefits approved, O’Shea struggled for years.

“He had his troubles. He had his demons, but he was a really good guy,” his wife, Rhonda O’Shea, said.

O’Shea went on to have an exemplary career as a truck driver, but at age 47, with no symptoms except not feeling well, he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. He died in Brunswick in late July at age 48.

The L&A Veterans Council will honor O’Shea and his family’s long military service with a flag ceremony Wednesday during its Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m. at Veterans Park on Main Street in Lewiston. Presenting the flag to the family will be Col. Blain Cote, wing commander of the Maine Civil Air Patrol.


Christian O’Shea’s blue chair is set up in his favorite spot in his yard in Pownal with his dress white cover, a photo of him and his Marine yearbook. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

O’Shea was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, the son of Christen and Kathleen O’Shea. In addition to one biological brother, his parents adopted eight special-needs children, Rhonda said.

She described them as a “tight-knit loving family.”

His parents, who live in Reading, Massachusetts, and much of his extended family — many living in Maine — are expected to attend Wednesday’s ceremony.

Following a long family tradition of military service, O’Shea joined the Marines after graduating from Beverly High School. His grandfather joined the Navy and served as a gunner on a ship during World War II, while his uncle was affected by Agent Orange during his service in Vietnam.

His wife, Rhonda, is a first lieutenant in Maine’s Civil Air Patrol.

O’Shea showed promise and rose to the position of squad leader before PTSD derailed his military career. After his discharge, he settled in Maine.


Despite his troubles, O’Shea obtained his Class A license and worked many years for Poland Spring Water Co. as a tanker driver, transporting water to various locations. He received awards for driving 3 million accident-free miles and was nominated twice as Maine Motor Transport Driver of the Year.

He had three children and was proud, his wife said, when his two oldest children, Joel and Miranda, joined the military. His youngest son, Matthew, recently turned 18. In addition to his three children and like his parents, O’Shea and Rhonda cared for six foster children. He also volunteered his free time working with nonprofit groups and supporting children and families in need, as well as supporting the Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Program.

Christian O’Shea’s children, Miranda and Matthew, walk through a field their father loved to spend time in with his dog, Rico. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

In addition, he helped counsel engaged couples during Engaged Encounter, a program designed by the church to help couples sustain their love through the trials of tribulations of being married.

Despite the PTSD demons, Rhonda said her husband was a giving person with a great sense of humor.

In September 2019, O’Shea was diagnosed with stage 4 color cancer.

“He had no prior symptoms except some minor constipation,” Rhonda said.

The family celebrated what was thought to be remission last March, but the cancer was still there. He died four months later on July 27.

At his funeral at All Souls Chapel in Poland Spring, the water company he drove for provided one of their large trucks to carry his remains.

“He suffered a lot,” Rhonda said. “He had a really rough go at it. But he was very brave and a very very good person.”

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