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Minnesota National Guard
Quieter

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq - Contingency Operating Base Basra was quieter than usual July 18 There was indeed activity There was activity in the motor pool and the Division Main Headquarters Building There was construction, KBR workers disembarking buses into the dining facilities, Sabre Security Guards were at gates and Soldiers did their usual choking through the dust while marching from point A to point B But the base was quieter

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News on the base had spread from Soldier to Soldier that during the indirect fire attack the night before; the indirect fire that had every Soldier on base donning their protective gear; the indirect fire that had medics scrambling with the instinctive sense of urgency drilled into them through years of training; the indirect fire that had every unit demanding to see "eyes-on" all of their Soldiers to account for them; during that indirect fire, we had lost men

As 34th Red Bull Infantry Soldiers filtered to their duty stations, the information filtered with them, passing from Soldier to Soldier until all the combinations of stories started to sound alike and started to make sense Once it all made sense, everything got quieter

We lost three men We lost three Soldiers We lost three Red Bulls

Minnesota National Guardsmen Spc Daniel Paul Drevnick, 22, of Woodbury, Spc James David Wertish, 20, of Olivia, and Spc Carlos E Wilcox, 27, of Cottage Grove were killed when COB Basra was attacked by rocket fire July 16

By the next morning, an official "ramp ceremony," in which Soldiers saluted their fallen comrades as their remains were placed on the ramp of a plane to take them back to their loved ones, had already taken place

Every Soldier on base found out and, in their own way, mourned and gave respect to their fallen comrades, while at the same time continuing their mission No one did it exactly the same way A combat zone doesn't afford the luxury of dramatic, mournful acts But whether Soldiers were simply hanging their heads in mourning or choking back tears while their noses stung and their eyes welled up, they all were quieter

The Red Bulls lost three good men The young men, who were serving their country, doing their work honorably and proudly, and doing it all in the name of the Americans they protected, are gone

They paid a price higher than any other

And the Red Bulls, in our mourning, in our continuing of the mission these men carried out, in the deep-down strength we find in their courage and in their honor, when we think about Daniel Drevnick, David Wertish and Carlos Wilcox, are quieter

Specialist Daniel Paul Drevnick

Dan Drevnick

Drevnick was born April 13, 1987 in St Paul, Minn He graduated from Woodbury High School and enlisted in the Minnesota Army National Guard March 28, 2005 He graduated from One Station Unit Training as a military police officer at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo On March 2, 2009, Drevnick deployed to Basra with the 34th Military Police Company in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom Drevnick, who planned to earn a degree in law enforcement, was attending Century College in White Bear Lake, Minn before deployment He was a drag racing partner with his dad and raced his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution at tracks all over the Midwest

Drevnick felt his unit was part of his family and when he returned from his leave, he said he was happy to be back with family

"Drevnick was one of a kind," said a fellow Soldier from 1st Platoon, 34th Military Police Company "Even when you're down and having a bad day, one glance from him and his sense humor was enough to bring a chuckle"

Another Soldier agreed about Drevnick's positive spirit "Drevnick was a great Soldier, but an even greater friend Dan always had an excellent attitude and an ability to bring people out of bad moods"

One way Dan tried to lift people's spirits was through attempting to grow some grass in Iraq His parents sent him soil and seeds Because Drevnick was happy to interact and lift the spirits of his friends, it was characteristic of him to show up three hours early to his shift He wanted to hang out with his friends

Drevnick is survived by his mother Roberta Freese and his father Ken Drevnick

Specialist James David Wertish

James Wertish

Wertish was born January 18, 1989 in Redwood Falls, Minn and is a graduate of BOLD High School in Olivia, Minn He enlisted into the Minnesota Army National Guard on February 28, 2006 He graduated from One Station Unit Training as a military police officer at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo On April 15, 2009, Wertish deployed to Basra with the 34th Military Police Company in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Soldiers in 1st Platoon said Wertish brought laughter to his friends and would literally give you the shirt off his back "He loved snowmobiles and playing Rock Band II He could always make us laugh with his humor We could count on him to improve our day"

Improving fellow Soldiers' days by making them laugh and playing Rock Band II seemed to go hand-in-hand with Wertish It wasn't so much that he was good at the game, but more that he was entertaining, said one Soldier about playing with him "Playing Rock Band II was an experience to behold It wasn't about the music, rather the experience"

James loved working on his family farm and snowmobiling He broke his collarbone while snowmobiling and deployed late because of his injury

After healing, he was glad to get back to his unit and his buddies were happy to have him Wertish is survived by his parents David and Kim Wertish, two sisters and a brother

Specialist Carlos Eduardo Wilcox IV

Carlos Wilcox

Wilcox was born April 29, 1982 in Golden Valley, Minn He graduated from Tartan High School in Oakdale, Minn He enlisted in the Minnesota Army National Guard March 15, 2006 after a short break in service from the United States Army Reserve He graduated from the Health Care Specialist Course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas in November 2006 and was assigned as a health care specialist to the 204th Medical Company in Cottage Grove, Minn He transferred to the 34th Military Police Company June 1, 2008

On March 2, 2009, he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Carlos' friends in the 1st Platoon, 34th Military Police Company described him as a good friend and a good Soldier

"Wilcox always hassled us about the White Sox beating the Twins in baseball He was a big White Sox fan," said one Soldier

As much as his friends in the unit found it fun to joke around with him, they were always somewhat amazed by how professional and astute Wilcox was

"Wilcox always took care of us," said one 1st Platoon Soldier "If anyone was hurting or had a medical issue, he took care of it"

"Wilcox was planning all sorts of training to better prepare our Soldiers in the event of a medical emergency," said another 1st Platoon Soldier "He could answer any medical question you had"

Carlos, who graduated from Metropolitan State University with a bachelor's degree in biology, had aspirations of going to medical school and becoming a doctor He was on track to achieving his goal, working as a military healthcare specialist with the 34th MP Co and looking forward to taking the medical school entrance exam after his deployment

He had asked his mother, Charlene, to mail him books so he could study for the exam during his down time in Iraq "He knew that God had called him to be a Soldier and a doctor," she said He also loved to travel and spent a semester studying in Granada, Spain

He was fluent in Spanish

Carlos' friends and family said he worked as a security officer at The Ugly Mug in downtown Minneapolis Friends gathered at the bar July 17 to remember him The gathering drew people "out of the woodwork," bartender Rob Gregg said, "which I think is kind of a testament to the kind of guy (Wilcox) was"

Gregg described Wilcox as "just the nicest guy," very calm, very laid-back

"A lot of times, with security staff downtown, those guys get a lot of attitude Carlos was the opposite of that," Gregg said "He was always very professional"

"My son loved his country, and he died an honorable death," said Charlene Wilcox He was "a man of God and loved his family"

He attended Light the Way Church in Cottage Grove

"Three of the coolest guys we will ever know"

The three young men were teammates When there was trouble with their air conditioner, Drevnick had an idea to hook up three AC units that weren't being used Drevnick, Wilcox, Wertish and another Soldier set up the other units From then on, they had a cool place to go when it was sweltering hot outside

In addition to being teammates, they were friends There were inside jokes and laughs between them, and the laughs brightened the entire platoon

"Wilcox, Wertish and Drevnick made this platoon so much more fun and made this deployment bearable," said one Soldier "They lit up the room"

One Soldier said of his three buddies, "they were three of the coolest guys we will ever know"

Commentary by Sgt Joe Roos, Multi-National Division - South
July 21, 2009 "ยข Basra, Iraq


This report contains information gathered from the Associated Press, the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press
Visit the Minnesota National Guard's Our Fallen Troops page.

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