While in Iraq, Evan A. Bixler was given the nickname “Ton of Fun.” At boot camp and in Iraq, “Evan was notorious for lifting the spirits of those around him as he did throughout his life,” his family said. “Fellow soldiers said that if it were not for Evan, his sense of humor and positive attitude, basic training would have been much more difficult to complete.” Bixler, 21, of Racine, Wis., died Dec. 24 in Hit from indirect fire. He was a 2003 high school graduate and was assigned to Baumholder, Germany. Last March, he told his parents he wanted to seek a medical waiver to enlist. “He said to us, ‘I don’t want to be 30 years old and have regrets,'” said his mother, Lisa. “He was reaching for his dreams.” He was initially not allowed to enlist because of sclerosis in his back.
Denied again at a Milwaukee recruiting office, he switched to a Chicago office and was allowed in. “The recruiter said to him, ‘You know, Evan, I’ve had people work this hard to get out of the Army. I’ve never known anyone work this hard to get into the Army,'” said his mother. He also is survived by his father, Kevin.
Army Pvt. Evan Bixler of Racine was killed by enemy gunfire in Iraq on Dec. 24. Bixler was the fourth member of the military from Racine County killed in the current Iraq War and the second in two months. Capt. Rhett Schiller, of Waterford, was killed Nov. 16 in Iraq. Spc. Eric Poelman was killed in Iraq in 2005 and Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Wyatt was killed in 2004.
Funeral arrangements for Bixler are pending. In the days following Bixler’s death, more than 100 people posted comments to the Bixler family at JournalTimes.com. Below are some of the comments:
Karin Thomas-Glasgow wrote: Every new article about Evan reveals a side of him that I never knew existed, a brave soldier that we can all be proud to say we knew … God bless him and his family. Stand proud and know that he lived what he believed. Thank you Evan for defending our country.
David Pease wrote: This is the second soldier to lose his life in the small band of my daughters friends. These young men who knew each other in life shared the same commitment for the purpose of freedom. My heart goes out to their families and friends. As an old soldier, I give my sympathy for such a great loss, but at the same time, a feeling of pride for Evan and his family.
Evan Bixler’s Family wrote: We cannot express enough thanks to all of the people who have shared their kind, compassionate thoughts with us at this time of loss. There have been a number of things shared that have brought us great comfort. We especially take comfort in “logjam’s” posting from 12/26/06. We could picture Evan standing in line waiting to see God. We visualized both Eric Poelman & Evan smiling their electric grins at each other as they stood together waiting on the Lord. God gave us the best.
Roy wrote: I am a retired Soldier living in Fond du Lac, and I want to express both my sadness and gratefulness for Evan and for his family. Soldiers know the risks they take, and usually accept it with a mix of concern and humor. Most importantly, tho, Soldiers do not let the fear take charge. They keep fear in the background so they can do what they know needs to get done. This is the essence of bravery and dedication. My thoughts are with you.
Steve and Kathy wrote: With two children in the Army we understand the strain on people with family members deployed and in harm’s way. Our deepest sympathy to the Bixler family at this time. We as a Nation can only say thank you for instilling in your son the dream of freedom and the sacrifices it takes to secure that privilege. He was keeping us safe.
Gina wrote: Evan was a great guy. It’s just hard to believe that someone you saw not long ago is just gone like that. This deeply saddens me. He was a good friend and will always be to me. I pray both for him and his family. He was a great man doing what he loved. I will miss him.
Grampa John wrote: To all those who have taken the time from their day to extend their condolences to my grandson Evan Bixler, a heart felt thank you. This is all about Evan, who I am very proud of.
Thank you very much.
God Bless Evan, my Dog Face.
Love Gramps, Semper-Fi, Godspeed.
Paula wrote: My Deepest Sympathies to the Bixler family. I attended Walden with Evan and his sister, I am shocked and devastated by the news of this loss. Again … My deepest sympathies.
Tom wrote: May the Bixler & Lisa(Neufeld)families know they’re in our thoughts and prayers. Evan’s service to our country and the world as a whole will not be forgotten. Having known your families as a great asset to Racine for generations, I can say this is a sad loss for our whole community. May God bless you and allow us to help you in days ahead.
Cindy and Luis wrote: At times like this it’s sometimes hard To find the words to say Our thoughts and prayers are with your family now While skies can seem so gray.
CRK wrote: I was one of Evan’s teacher’s at Park HS. He was a sweet kid who always had a kind word to say to anyone. With everything he’s been through in his life, this isn’t the way I thought it would end. Rest in Peace, Evan
Samantha (Bahr) Kantorowicz wrote: My heart goes out to you Mrs. B, Mr. B, and Amy. I am proud of the man Evan became and will hold many childhood memories dear to my heart. God be with you in your time of need.
Adam Borkhus wrote: I remember playing video games with him. He was my best friend sophomore year. A great person and a great friend. I will miss him.
ACG wrote: My Lord! To the Bixler family, may God continue to bless you and comfort you in your time of sorrow! It is a blessing that Evan was able to achieve his dream, despite his medical condition! Stay strong and God Bless!
Winger wrote: A true Patriot. Defied all obstacles in pursuit of the honor of serving his country and defending freedom for all of us.
Thank you, Private Bixler. And thank you to your family.
Lindsay wrote: My thoughts and prayers are with the Bixler family — I did not know Evan but am a friend of Amy’s. I’m keeping you all in my prayers. God bless.
Deb L. wrote: My deepest sympathies to Kevin Lisa and Amy. I am so sorry for your loss. Evan was a good boy and will be missed by all. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Trust but Verify wrote: What a very special family to share their son’s dreams with all of us. Where do we find such great young men? Our humblest thanks for the life of Evan Bixler. May God grant him eternal peace and wrap His arms around the entire Bixler family.
Scott and Kathy Nelson wrote: Our son has been serving in the Air Force for over 9 years. We can’t imagine what Evan’s loved ones are going through. No matter what happens, my wife and I still believe it is an honor to serve this great country. May God’s love and peace be with you.
Guy Hawley wrote: Lisa and Kevin, Words can not explain the pain I feel for you now. Please know that all of us vets, all of us Americans and all of your family and friends feel your loss. May God be with you and your family now and always. Your Son is a true American Patriot, we thank you Evan and your family.
Battle Buddy wrote: All gave some, some gave all. God bless this soldier and his family.
KAY wrote: A relative e-mailed us this a.m. about this young man’s passing as he was a friend of their son who is also from Racine and stationed in Iraq. May God bless this family and give them the strength to go on. If he had to die at least is was for something he believed in and not something forced upon him. Sounds like he was bound and determined to serve his country and he did it well till the end. God will have a special place for him.
Ana, Don, Olivia & Natalia (in Memphis) wrote: Our deepest sympathies to his family and to Naomi, our niece (and cousin). We are all in shock. We’ve heard so much about Evan, but never had the pleasure of meeting him. We’ve prayed for him daily since he left for Iraq. Now imagine him in heaven with Eric! We pray that God will comfort you and deepen your faith.
Alicia Kovacik wrote: My thoughts are with the Bixler family. Evan used to go out to lunch with my friends and I back at Park High School and I was in a few classes with him. I am still shocked.
Karin Thomas-Glasgow wrote: Lisa, Kevin & Amy: My deepest sympathy to you. You can be proud of Evan and what he represented in his service to our country. Although I can’t be there in person, you are in my thoughts and prayers constantly. All my love to you, Uncle John, Aunt Carol, Lori and Matt, Jessica and Emma. Rejoice knowing that Evan is in heaven with Our Lord!
Lucas Galbraith wrote: My son Lucas was Evan’s roommate in Germany. He is in Iraq now and wants me to send his condolences to you. He thought the world of Evan and wants you to know he was a good soldier and friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. My heart goes out to you.
How often do you here of some one having to fight to get into the military? Will always be a hero in my book. My prayers are with the family at this extremely sad time.
Joanne wrote: To the Bixler family: I am so very saddened by your loss. May your memories of your son keep him alive in your hearts. I cannot imagine losing a child, and I will keep you in my prayers. I pray for these young men and women every day, including my own son in Iraq.
Calvin wrote: Evan, I knew you through Paul Minetti and you were an amazing person. From the first day I met you, I knew you cared about all of your friends and would defend them to no end. You are an amazing person … and I say that in the present tense because I don’t think that anything could truly take you away from us.
Pfc. Evan A. Bixler, 21, of Racine, Wis., died December 24 in Hit, Iraq, of wounds suffered from enemy indirect fire during security operations. Evan was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Baumholder, Germany.
RACINE – A military honor guard carried Pvt. Evan Bixler’s casket from a charter plane to a hearse Wednesday morning at Batten International Airport.
Bixler’s body was brought home 10 days after the Racine native was killed in Iraq. Bixler is the son of Lisa and Kevin Bixler. He graduated from Park High School in 2003. Along with his parents, he leaves behind an older sister, Amy.
Bixler’s funeral will be held this week. Visitation will be from 3-8 p.m. Thursday, at the Maresh-Meredith and Acklam Funeral Home, 803 Main St. He will be buried Friday in a private service.
The honor guard that escorted his casket was from the 14th Military Police Brigade from Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Bixler was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division based in Baumholder, Germany.
He died Dec. 24 from indirect enemy fire near Hit, Iraq. Hit is considered a volatile town and has seen recurrent fighting between U.S. forces and insurgents. It’s along one of western Iraq’s main routes traveled by non-Iraqi insurgents from Syria into central Iraq.
Bixler was the fourth member of the military from Racine County killed in the current Iraq war and the second in two months: Capt. Rhett Schiller of Waterford was killed Nov. 16.