July 12, 2006, - 5:15 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
On the 4th of July, I wrote about Sgt. Duane Dreasky of Company B, 125th Infantry Regiment–who valiantly fought to live, despite burns over 75% of his body. “Born to Be a Soldier,” the Army National Guardsman was the lone survivor of a terrorist IED explosion that hit a HumVee on November 21, last year.
He was in Iraq because, although he finished a year-long tour of duty guarding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, he volunteered to go. He could have remained safely in Michigan as a recruiter, where he was assigned.
Sadly, he died Monday at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, after fighting to live for eight months. He was 31 years old. Details from one of two touching pieces by The Detroit News’ only decent reporter, Edward Cardenas:
“He went out with so much dignity,” his wife, Mandeline Dreasky, said Tuesday.
“He fought and defied death four times. We had hoped that he would make it.”
He had been living a life-long dream of serving his country when the Humvee in which he was riding near al-Habbaniyah, Iraq, was hit by an improvised explosive device on Nov. 21, 2005.
He was airlifted out of Iraq and ended up at the San Antonio burn center, where President George W. Bush toured on Jan. 1 and met with soldiers. Sgt. Dreasky, in bandages, tried to salute when Bush entered the room. . . .
Sgt. Duane Dreasky & Wife/Fellow Soldier Mandeline
He was also the last survivor of the five-man Humvee unit that was attacked on Nov. 20.
The shock of his death resonated beyond his family.
“He was a big imposing, somewhat intimidating person who loved kids and they loved him,” said Kim Anderson, whose son took martial arts classes from Dreasky.
“He just tried to make his family proud, and he definitely did that.”
Memorial contributions can be sent to the Duane J. Dreasky Scholarship Foundation, P.O. Box 23116 Lansing, MI 48909-3116.
Even though he passed from this world, Dreasky is a symbol of the determination, struggle, and will to survive of all our brave men who are protecting our freedom. When he was alive and in tremendous pain, Dreasky and his wife thought of others, setting up a foundation for scholarships for special needs kids to attend the Special Olympics and for others to pursue medical careers–the address of which is above.
Read both of Edward Cardenas’ moving pieces–here and here–about Duane Dreasky.
More on Duane Dreasky, from the October 15, 2005 issue of The Iron Soldier (Official Newsletter of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, Al-Anbar Province, Iraq):
Although he recently finished a year long stint in Guantanamo, Cuba guarding detainees, Sgt. Dreasky volunteered for duty in
Dreasky utilized his professional expertise to create panoramic views of terrain sketches at all guard towers occupied by his platoon. He also used his initiative to take digital photos with a new picture system. The pictures he took were used to create a targeted mission and check out suspicious activity.
Sgt. Duane J. Dreasky epitomizes the Army values and lives by the Warrior Ethos. His leadership, attention to detail, and professionalism is a credit to himself and the Michigan Army National Guard.
Sgt. Dreasky is married to another outstanding Soldier from the Michigan Army National Guard, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Mandy Dreasky is a former Sgt. 1st Class from the 1775th Military Police Company. She was wounded in action while serving
during OIF 03.
Sgt. Duane Dreasky, American Hero, Rest In Peace. May G-d Bless You.
**** UPDATE, 07/17/06: More info on Sgt. Duane Dreasky. Plus, protesters plan to mar his funeral. How you can help stop them. Check it out here. ****
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