Saturday, October 08, 2011

Army Capt. Drew E. Russell

Remember Our Heroes

Army Capt. Drew E. Russell, 25, of Scotts, Mich.

Capt Russell was assigned to 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Oct. 8, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by a rocket propelled grenade. Also killed was Capt. Joshua S. Lawrence.

Capt Russell graduated from Vicksburg High School in 2004 where he played football his freshman year and was an honor roll student all four years. He enrolled in Western Michigan University’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, graduating in 2008 with a double major in criminal justice and military science. He joined the Army in 2008 and joined the unit in June 2009.

Capt Russell received his captain's bars shortly after deploying in June. This was his first deployment.

Vicksburg High School Principal Keevin O’Neill said ,“He knew he wanted to go into the military and followed that dream,” O’Neill said. “I remember what a good kid he was ... a very hard worker.”

He was a won­derful son,” his mother, Patti, 52, said Monday. “He was very loving, and he had a great sense of humor. There’s just an empty hole in my heart that will never be filled again.”

Father, Jim, said he last talked to his son on a Skype about two weeks prior and that the family received an email from him on Friday. He recalled the great time the family had when they went to Colorado to spend time together before Drew’s deployment. The father and his two sons enjoyed one of Drew’s favorite hobbies.

“We were laughing and sending bullets down the (firing) range,” Jim Russell said. “The boys were close. They always took good care of their dad.”

Aunt, Janean Monaham, would get a phone call from her nephew, Drew, every year on her birthday. “We had a special bond,” she said of the nephew, Drewbie, as family called him. Instead of a phone call this year, her nephew will be buried on her birthday.

”To have him buried on my birthday is truly an honor," Monaham said. "I’ll celebrate his life every year."

Katie Bennett who attended Western Michigan University with Russell, said they first met on a dark night in 2006 when he told her she shouldn’t walk home alone and offered her a ride. He drove her home until the semester ended. “It’s hard because I wasn’t as close to him as some of the others here, but the loss has shook me to my core. He was just such a nice guy, how couldn’t I be here for him?”

JP Lambrechts met Drew in middle school, saying Drew always had a joke to tell that would make his day go better. They would spend their days playing on the golf course near their homes and building forts in the woods.

“I knew he was going to be great at whatever he did. He had that mindset to do a great job,” Lambrechts said. “I’ll always remember Drew in my heart.”

Jonathan Stoner said Drew was a mentor when they were both attending WMU’s ROTC program. “The world doesn’t know how much it misses Drew Russell yet, that’s the sad part,” he said.

His best friends, Mark Bush and Ray Babushka, graduated from high school with Drew and attended classes at WMU at the same time, spending much of their free time together.

“I didn’t believe it when I heard the news....,” Babushka said. “I was just in shock. It was surreal.”

Bush remembered the pranks Drew would play, like the time when Drew was 12 and took the labels off all the soup cans in Bush family’s pantry. Bush said the family had to eat the food from inside the cans without first knowing what they contained. Drew pulled the same prank again just before his deployment, Bush said. “He always liked to have fun, always liked to poke you,” he said.

“His dedication to his country was something I’ve never seen before,” Bush said. “Drew had his mind set on it. He was very goal-oriented.”
“He was a real stand-up guy,” Bush said. “I could go on about Drew forever.”

Friend and neighbor, Dustin Lindsey, said, “Drew was an amazing kid. He always took the time out when he was at home on leave to play army guys with my (6-year-old) son.”

Capt Russell was laid to rest on October 20 in Vicksburg Cemetery.

He is survived by his parents, Patti and Jim; brother, James; and his sweetheart, Sarah and their dog, Peanut.

Army Capt. Drew E. Russell was killed in action on 10/08/11.

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