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Army Cpl. Joseph A. VanDreumel

Died August 14, 2011 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

32, of Grand Rapids, Mich.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade Grafenwoehr, Germany; died Aug. 14 in Yahya Khel district, Paktika province, Afghanistan, while conducting vehicle recovery operations and encountered a secondary explosion while dismounted. Also killed was Sgt. Matthew A. Harmon.

Army corporal from Michigan killed in Afghanistan

By Jeff Karoub

The Associated Press

DETROIT — Following his father and grandfather into the military wasn’t what Joseph VanDreumel initially planned as a career, until being laid off from a western Michigan furniture company prompted him to reconsider.

His father, Dennis VanDreumel, said his son found a fit in the Army as a corporal who recovered broken-down vehicles. During a recent visit to see his son and family in Germany, Dennis VanDreumel said his son, who grew up in western Michigan and graduated from Jenison High School in 1997, told him “he loved his job, he loved the Army.”

Joseph VanDreumel, 32, was helping recover a disabled mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle, or MRAP, in Afghanistan when he was killed by a roadside bomb, relatives said. Another soldier, Sgt. Matthew A. Harmon of Bagley, Minn., also died in Sunday’s blast, the Defense Department confirmed Tuesday.
Both men were part of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade based in Grafenwoehr, Germany.

“Joe just took me by surprise,” Dennis VanDreumel said of his son’s decision to join the Army last year after he lost his job. The married father of two had been building office systems for Zeeland-based office furniture and accessories maker Herman Miller Inc.

“He was laid off with the big downturn in 2008,” the elder VanDreumel said during a phone interview from his home in Raleigh, N.C. “He was ... going to support his family all costs. He called me up one day and said, ‘Dad, I’m going to join the Army.’”

His second career choice pleased both his father and father-in-law, Allen Greiner. The elder VanDreumel retired from the Navy after 24 years, and Greiner served 20 years with the Michigan Army National Guard. Joseph VanDreumel’s grandfather, Ken Phillips, served in the Air Force’s Presidential Flight Crew.

“Joseph served his country and his family with the highest level of honor and admiration,” his family said in a statement released by Greiner. “He will be truly missed by all whom have had contact with him.”

Before enlisting, Joseph VanDreumel lived with his wife, Sarah, and two children, 10-year-old Angel and 8-year-old Skyler, in the unincorporated community of Standale in Ottawa County’s Georgetown Township.

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, the Republican congressman whose district includes the area, said the community would rally around and assist the family.
“It always brings a sinking feeling when I hear of the loss of one of our own brave servicemen,” Huizenga wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “We will continue to pray for our troops that fight to protect our freedoms every day.”

Funeral arrangements were incomplete Tuesday but Greiner said services are planned at Holy Spirit Church in Grand Rapids.

Memorial service held for fallen Michigan soldier

The Associated Press

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A memorial service was held Monday in Grand Rapids for a Michigan soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

Relatives and friends of U.S. Army Cpl. Joseph A. VanDreumel gathered at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

A military burial was to follow. U.S. flags were ordered lowered across the state Monday by Gov. Rick Snyder.

VanDreumel died Aug. 14 after a roadside bomb detonated while he was recovering a vehicle hit by an earlier blast in Paktika province.

The 32-year-old joined the Army in January 2010 and trained at Fort Knox, Ky. He served in Germany from August 2010 through July 2011 and then in Afghanistan.

"He felt it was the right decision. It was an experience and opportunity for the whole family," his father, Dennis VanDreumel said.

Joseph A. VanDreumel's family was presented with his Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

VanDreumel graduated in 1997 from Jenison High School.

He is survived by his wife, Sarah; children, Angel and Skyler; parents, Dennis and Karen VanDreumel; a brother and sister.

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