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Army Capt. Drew E. Russell

Died October 8, 2011 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

25, of Scotts, Mich.; assigned to 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Oct. 8 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by a rocket propelled grenade. Also killed was Capt. Joshua S. Lawrence.

'Ever since he was a little kid, he was in the Army'

The Associated Press

SCOTTS, Mich. — A 25-year-old Army captain from southwestern Michigan whose boyhood maneuvers with toy soldiers were more like training than play and who was planning a military career was killed along with a comrade from Tennessee when Afghan insurgents attacked their unit with a rocket propelled grenade, his family and the military said.

Capt. Drew E. Russell of Scotts and Capt. Joshua Lawrence, 29, of Nashville, Tenn., died Saturday after enemy forces attacked their unit in Kandahar province, the Defense Department announced Monday.

Russell's hometown is in Kalamazoo County, about 10 miles southeast of Kalamazoo.

Russell and Lawrence were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo.

Russell graduated from Vicksburg High School in 2004 and entered Western Michigan University as an ROTC student, graduating in 2008 with a double major in criminal justice and military science, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported.

Jim Russell, 59, said his son planned a military career. He said his son spent long hours as a child arranging units of toy soldiers around the house and staging mock battles. It was more practice than play, the father said.

"I always looked at him and wondered if he was (Gen. George) Patton," the father told The Gazette of Colorado Springs, Colo. "Ever since he was a little kid, he was in the Army. That's what he wanted."

Russell also had a playful side, his father said. He once broke into a friend's house while she was on vacation and ripped the labels off of every can of food.

"She spent three or four months guessing what dinner was going to be," his father said.

Russell's first overseas deployment was to Afghanistan, starting June 13. He was responsible for U.S. and Afghan soldiers at police stations around Afghanistan, his family said.

"He was a wonderful son," said mother Patti Russell, 52. "He was very loving and he had a great sense of humor. There's just an empty hole in my heart that will never be filled again."

Russell's remains were flown to Dover, Del., Air Force Base on Monday afternoon.

"Drew won't even be able to have kids," Jim Russell said as he choked back tears. "What do you say? He had a good future in front of him."

Drew Russell is also survived by his brother, James. Funeral plans were not immediately announced.

Slain captain buried in Mich. cemetery

The Associated Press

VICKSBURG, Mich. — The body of a 25-year-old soldier killed in Afghanistan has been escorted through the streets of a southwestern Michigan city on Oct. 20.

People lined the streets of Vicksburg, about 60 miles south of Grand Rapids, with U.S. flags in honor of Army Capt. Drew Russell, The Kalamazoo Gazette reported.

About 500 people later gathered at St. Martin of Tours church, where services were held. Russell, of Scotts, was buried with full military honors at the Vicksburg Cemetery.

He died Oct. 8 with Capt. Joshua Lawrence of Nashville, Tenn., during an attack on their unit in Kandahar province.

The Rev. Chris Ankley said that Russell was “the kind of man we want to defend our country.”

Gov. Rick Snyder ordered flags lowered on the day of the funeral.

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