- NATO Kosovo Force
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Freedom’s Sentinel
- Operation Inherent Resolve
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation New Dawn
- Operation Octave Shield
- Operation Odyssey Lightning
- Operation Spartan Shield
- U.S. Africa Command Operations
- U.S. Central Command operations
- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Army Spc. Daniel P. Drevnick
Died July 17, 2009 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
22, of Woodbury, Minn., assigned to the 34th Military Police Company, 34th Infantry Division, Minnesota Army National Guard, Stillwater, Minn.; died July 17 in Basra, Iraq, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using indirect fire. Also killed were Spc. James D. Wertish and Spc. Carlos E. Wilcox IV.
Minnesota mourns guardsmen killed in Iraq
The Associated Press
STILLWATER, Minn. — Condolences poured in from across the state Saturday after three soldiers with the Minnesota National Guard were killed in Iraq.
The Pentagon on Saturday confirmed the slain soldiers were 22-year-old Spc. Daniel P. Drevnick, of Woodbury; 20-year-old Spc. James D. Wertish, of Olivia; and 27-year-old Spc. Carlos E. Wilcox IV, of Cottage Grove.
All three were assigned to Stillwater-based 34th Military Police Company, 34th “Red Bull” Infantry Division.
“We mourn the loss of these three soldiers,” said Maj. Gen. Larry Shellito, the Minnesota National Guard’s adjutant general, in a statement. “They were truly part of our National Guard family.”
The soldiers were killed Thursday evening when insurgents attacked their Basra position with mortars, rockets and artillery.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said in a statement Saturday that she was “deeply saddened” by the soldiers’ deaths.
“They made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, and for that we are forever grateful,” she said.
Funeral details were not immediately provided. But an organization that supports military families and troops returning from duty planned a silent vigil to honor the three soldiers and their families.
The Yellow Ribbon Network of Washington County said the vigil, to be held Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Stillwater Veterans Memorial, would also honor all deployed service members and their families.
Iraqi authorities said Saturday that they arrested a member of an Iranian-backed militia suspected in an attack that killed three U.S. soldiers in southern Iraq. It wasn’t immediately clear whether those three soldiers were the Minnesota guardsmen.
Maj. Gen. Adil Daham, chief of the Basra provincial police, said the militiaman confessed early Saturday to the attack on a U.S. base near the airport. The rocket attack was a rare assault on troops in the comparatively quiet south, the U.S. military said.
The last time three Minnesota soldiers were killed on the same day in Iraq was Feb. 21, 2005, when three National Guard troops were killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.
Wilcox, who wanted to become a doctor, had been on his first deployment to Iraq since May, his mother told The Associated Press on Friday.
“He was a very proud young man, just very proud to serve his country,” said Charlene Wilcox.
Carlos Wilcox grew up in Minnesota and graduated from Tartan High School in Oakdale, his mother said. He studied at Arizona State University and in Granada, Spain. He then returned to Minnesota and graduated from Metropolitan State University with a biology degree.
Drevnick had hoped to become a state trooper, said his father, who recently retired from the Minnesota State Patrol.
Ken Drevnick remembered his son’s work ethic in the way he was restoring his muscle car after graduating from Woodbury High School. Dan Drevnick worked two jobs while attending school full time to help pay for the car.
“That’s what type of person he was,” his father said. “To get someplace, he knew he had to make it happen.”
Rev. George Schmit, the Wertish family’s pastor, told the West Central Tribune of Willmar that David and Kim Wertish were in mourning. Their son joined the Guard before graduating from Bold High School in 2007, Schmit said.
The pastor told the newspaper that James Wertish was a “friendly young man” who helped on the family farm. He enjoyed riding snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles in his spare time, Schmit said.
State Rep. Phil Sterner, DFL-Rosemount, where the Red Bull division has its headquarters, said in a statement that the three guardsmen “exemplify the best of our state and of public service.”
Flags lowered to remember fallen soldiers
The Associated Press
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Gov. Tim Pawlenty is ordering flags at the state Capitol complex lowered to half-staff to honor two Minnesota soldiers killed in Iraq.
Pawlenty ordered flags lowered July 25 to remember Spc. Daniel Drevnick of Woodbury. Drevnick’s funeral is July 25 in Woodbury, with burial at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
The governor also ordered flags lowered July 27. That’s the day a funeral Mass will be held in Bird Island for Spc. James Wertish of rural Olivia.
Wertish and Drevnick were among three Minnesota National Guardsmen killed by an insurgent attack July 16 in Basra.
‘Wild child’ came from long line of service members
The Associated Press
Dan Drevnick’s affinity with speed began early. He followed his father’s interest in drag racing and even started restoring his own muscle car after graduating from Woodbury (Minn.) High School in 2005.
He worked two jobs to pay for it, said his father, Ken.
“That’s what type of person he was,” he said. “To get someplace he knew he had to make it happen.”
Dan Drevnick, 22, of Woodbury, was one of three Minnesota National Guard soldiers killed July 16 during an insurgent attack in Iraq, a week after he returned from a visit home. He was assigned to the 34th Military Police Company, Stillwater, Minn.
His father said Drevnick was part of a military police unit and hoped to become a state trooper. He was his family’s sixth generation in the military.
His family spoke of “rebellious years” in high school when he pierced his ears and grew out his hair. He was energetic — “our wild child,” his stepfather said — loved learning, skateboarded and raced cars. He also was fond of duct tape and once used it to mummify a friend.
“He was never afraid of anything,” said his stepfather, Charles Freese.