Viewpoint: Will I remember their sacrifice?I scrolled down the Minnesota National Guard’s “Our Fallen Troops” web page (http://tinyurl.com/klbz3s), and began reading each of the names and viewing the faces of the 15 (as of press time) Guard members who have died in a combat zone during service to the country since September 11, 2001.
By: Hank Long, Woodbury Bulletin
I scrolled down the Minnesota National Guard’s “Our Fallen Troops” web page (http://tinyurl.com/klbz3s), and began reading each of the names and viewing the faces of the 15 (as of press time) Guard members who have died in a combat zone during service to the country since September 11, 2001.
Daniel Drevnick, James Wertish and Carlos Wilcox were at the top.
I had never met these men, members of the locally-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, but I’ve come to know quite a bit about them over the last few weeks via the media’s coverage (including this newspaper) of their deaths and the impact of that loss on their families, friends and fellow Guard members.
Drevnick, of Woodbury, loved to restore cars and planned to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue a career in law enforcement. Wilcox, of Cottage Grove, had dreams of being a doctor. Wertish, of Olivia, loved working on the family farm.
There’s much more about these men that only family and friends will be able to carry with them long after they are gone. But as a journalist and member of the community, I’ve had the chance to learn a little bit about their personalities, passions and dedication to their service to their fellow citizens. And their sacrifice in their service is something I have promised myself I will never forget. Or will I? Will we?
I scrolled down further on the web page.
Seven profiles down from the top, I read the name. I couldn’t forget the face.
Sgt. Nicholas Turcotte, 23, of Maple Grove, died Dec. 6, 2006 when the armored security vehicle he was riding in rolled over in an accident in a town about 200 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq.
Turcotte was a member of the Minnesota Guard’s West St. Paul-based Company A, Second Battalion 135th Infantry. He was also a former teammate of mine in both football and hockey during high school.
The last time I may have spoken with Nick was most likely on the ice or the football field or in the halls of Maple Grove Senior High a little more than nine years ago.
He was a year younger than me, and we didn’t hang out often outside of practices and games, but we shared circles of friends. I remember learning of his decision to serve his country a few years after high school.
According to media reports, he loved the idea of serving his country via the military. He was interested in joining the active duty Army, but his wife thought the National Guard would be a better, safer option.
I learned of Nick’s death via friends on Facebook and later in local media reports (welcome to the age of online social networks). I told myself at that time that I could not and would not take for granted Nick’s service to his country and the sacrifice he made every day he was in that uniform, far away from his family and friends back at home.
I can imagine that is the question that many friends and acquaintances of our two local soldiers (Drevnick and Wilcox) have asked themselves in the last several days. Will I always remember their sacrifice?