Steven T Drees

Steven T Drees

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U.S. Army

Private Steven T. Drees, of Peshtigo, Wisconsin, died Sunday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, in Germany. He was injured Wednesday in Konar Province, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit using small-arms fire and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, at Fort Carson. The unit deployed in late May and was patrolling in the Khyber Pass, the mountain pass that links Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Drees joined the Army in August 2008 and was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division in December. Drees’ unit suffered heavy casualties in Iraq when it was the 2nd Infantry Divisions’ 2nd Brigade Combat Team, losing 113 soldiers.

Friends and well-wishers carrying candles and waving flags lined the streets of Peshtigo Monday night to honor a 19-year-old soldier who died Sunday as a result of injuries he sustained in Afghanistan.

His parents, Dawn Bayer and Paul Drees, and his twin brother, Charlie, were present when Drees died Sunday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, Barb Bayer said. He had been kept alive until his organs could be harvested for donation, and family members learned this weekend that Drees’ organs may have saved the lives of three people, Bayer said.

Drees’ parents and brother arrived in Peshtigo about 9:30 p.m. Monday. Hundreds of people gathered in front of the home at 281 S. Peck Ave. and along the street to welcome them. Candles on the street and a police escort guided the family to their flag-covered yard.

High school friends of Drees said they spent the past four days preparing for the memorial. “We wanted it to be happy,” said James Meeks, 17, a high school friend. “Before Steve left, he told everyone that if anything happened to him he wanted them to be proud, not sad.”

The mourners seemed to express their reactions in different tones. Some joked about past memories, others expressed anger toward the insurgency, and some just wept.

Bayer is Drees’ mother’s cousin, but she was always “Auntie Barb” to Drees, she said. She described Steven as a playful young man – “a child at heart” – who loved children. As a boy, he played baseball, and he lettered in both football and basketball in high school, she said.

Drees’ high school friends all solicited area businesses for donations for the candles and flags used in Monday night’s event, Bayer said.

“The kids have been wonderful,” she said. “Some of the family members wouldn’t have made it through without the kids here supporting them.”

The kids were planning to have T-shirts and rubber bracelets made in Drees’ honor, for the funeral, and plans are under way for a parade for when his body is returned to Peshtigo, she said.

One friend, Josiah Schafer, said the loss has motivated him even more to join the Army.

“I know he would be proud and supportive of me,” Schafer said. “If I die, I hope I have the same support as Steve did.”

Steven’s portrait is also located on Poster 7


One Response to “Steven T Drees”
  1. Steven’s own words about who he was:
    “My hometown is peshtigo and as much as i hate it at times ill never forget it. it made me who i am and the army just added to it, and ill never change. Im a member of the US Army, Im an infantryman and i love it, i give everything i have to serve my country and the people in it i put the well being of the civilans before my own because i am only a tiny tiny part of my country and the civilans make up the majority of this country and giving one life to free thousands and make their life better is a trade me and my fellow infantry brothers will make in a heart beat we are less than half of one percent of this great country and because of what we are capable of that is all we need so the rest of the United States and become whatever they want to without worry “The object of war isnt to die for your country, its to make the poor bastard die for his” I don’t fight for this country its just land, i fight for the people that live here, every child, woman, and man. Whether you believe in me or not, I’m a Soldier and i’ll give everything i got.”

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