Sunday, August 14, 2011

Army Spc. Joseph A. VanDreumel

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Joseph A. VanDreumel, 32, of Grand Rapids, Mich.

Spc VanDreumel was assigned to 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade Grafenwoehr, Germany; died Aug. 14, 2011 in Paktika province, Afghanistan, while conducting vehicle recovery operations and encountered a secondary explosion while dismounted. Also killed was Sgt. Matthew A. Harmon.

Capt. Mark Gerasimas described the pair as “dedicated soldiers. ... Both of these men worked tirelessly at all hours to fill the requirements the company placed on them. Even when solicited for honest feedback, I never once heard either of these soldiers complain about a tasking or workload.”

Gerasimas said the pair “gave of themselves to the end” as they executed the vehicle recovery mission.

Cpl VanDreumel graduated from Jenison High School in 1997.

Father, Dennis, said his son enjoyed fishing and tearing apart a car and putting it back together.

“He liked to tear things down. He was going to tear out the engine of his Bonneville when he got back. Nothing scared him about cars.”

The waters off Ludington were his son’s “second home” during salmon season. “He would go salmon fishing anytime he possibly could,” he said.

VanDreumel's second career choice pleased his father, Dennis. The elder VanDreumel retired from the Navy after 24 years, Joseph VanDreumel’s grandfather, Ken Phillips, served in the Air Force’s Presidential Flight Crew.

“Joe just took me by surprise,” Dennis 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. 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.’”

Father, Dennis, said he spoke to his son just a couple days before his final mission. “He loved his job. I told him I was proud of him and he thanked me.

“There was no finer man in my life. He did what he needed to do to take care of his family every time. He was loved, and he knew he was loved.”

VanDreumel’s father-in-law, Allen Greiner, said it was particularly hard because Sgt. Harmon was “Joe’s close friend,” he said.

VanDreumel had been stationed in Germany since August 2010. He had been deployed to Afghanistan about six weeks.

“He was very happy,” said his mother, North Carolina resident Karen VanDreumel. “He was talking about re-enlisting when we were visiting in June.”

Brother, Adam, said, “He told us he was heading to one of the safest areas and that we had nothing to worry about. He was a mechanic, and he told us he was pretty sure he was going to be safe and working on machines.”

Army Spc. Joseph A. VanDreumel was killed in action on 8/14/11.

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