Bruce Vrooman said the structure of a military environment helped his younger son, Jeremy, mature. “All the cliches you heard about the military being positive were what Jeremy loved,” Bruce Vrooman said. “He loved knowing he was making a difference.” Vrooman, 28, of Sioux Falls, S.D., died July 15 in Baghdad of wounds suffered from an explosive in Kn’an. He was assigned to Vilseck, Germany. Vrooman was stationed at Fort Carson and served his first tour in Iraq in 2003, driving an ammunition truck. He then spent a few months as a recruiter in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, before deciding to join a Stryker unit in Germany.
“He was what every man should aspire to be, what every husband should aspire to be and what every father should hope to be,” Bruce Vrooman said. Lori Donahue recalled her son loved to laugh and had an infectious smile. He loved playing with his kids, military vehicle models and fishing. He wanted to be remembered in true cavalry tradition – that meant displaying his Stetson instead of a Kevlar helmet at his memorial ceremony. He also is survived by his wife, Latrecia, and two children, Xavier, 5, and Jade, 1.
The Army Bronze Star with “V” attachment for Valor medal was presented to the family of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy D. Vrooman on April 14 in Green Bay, Wis.
The staff sergeant was killed in action July 15, 2008, in Kn’an, Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Wisconsin Army National Guard Lt. Col. Margaret Frittitta presented the medal to Bruce and Susan Vrooman of Superior, Jeremy’s father and stepmother, and stepbrother Brad Steckelberg, of Sioux Falls, S.D.
Many Wisconsin Gold Star families — families of fallen service members — shared in the presentation during the special weekend to reach out to them.
Former Sen. Herb Kohl and staff helped the Vroomans with the medal application and award.
Eyewitness statements from soldiers were obtained, bringing the facts of Staff Sgt. Vrooman’s sacrifice to light. Through his quick thinking and training, Vrooman saved the lives of all 59 men directly involved in the mission named Operation Cougar Storm.
The award states “For valorous achievement on July 15, 2008, while serving as the Senior Troop Dismount with 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Staff Sergeant Vrooman’s quick thinking and tactical abilities helped members of Palehorse Troop to survive a lethal explosion.”
The award notes Vrooman entered an abandoned building first to secure the area before the rest of his team entered. His knowledge of improvised explosive devices allowed him to identify the location of one hidden inside.
“Without hesitation, SSG Vrooman signaled for his men to exit the area while covering his team. SSG Vrooman’s sacrifice saved the lives of his team from the blast. SSG Vrooman’s actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 2d Stryker Cavalry Regiment and the United States Army,” the award states.
28, of Sioux Falls, S.D.; assigned to 2nd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Vilseck, Germany; died July 15 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated while his unit was conducting combat operations Kn’an, Iraq.
Sioux Falls soldier killed in Iraq
By Melanie Brandert
(Sioux Falls, S.D.) Argus Leader
A Sioux Falls soldier died in Baghdad on Tuesday of wounds suffered while on a combat mission in Iraq.
Staff Sgt. Jeremy Vrooman, 28, of Sioux Falls was wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated while his unit was conducting combat operations in Kn’an, Iraq, according to the U.S. Defense Department. He died at a Baghdad hospital.
His mother, Lori Donahue of Sioux Falls, said her son and other soldiers were raiding a house in Iraq when the device exploded.
Vrooman was assigned to 2nd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division in Vilseck, Germany.
He began his second tour overseas three weeks ago and was scheduled to return in November, Donahue said.
“All the cliches you heard about the military being positive were what Jeremy loved,” his father, Bruce Vrooman, said. “He loved knowing he was making a difference.”
Vrooman leaves behind his wife, Latrecia, and two children, Xavier, 4, and Jade, 9 months, in Germany, Lori Donahue said.
Vrooman completed basic training at Fort Knox, Ky. He wanted to join the Army because his brother, Justin, had.
“He did it proudly,” Donahue said of Jeremy. “He was so proud to wear the uniform.”
Donahue wasn’t home when she learned from her husband, Wayne, that Army officials were looking for them. She had an idea about the reason, but it didn’t hit her until she saw them walk up.
“I lost it. I just lost it,” Donahue said. “It’s a horrible feeling. I don’t want anyone to go through it.”
Bruce Vrooman of Superior, Wis., said the structure of a military environment helped his younger son to mature. He spent some time at the Custer boot camp and that stoked his interest in the military, his father said. Jeremy later received his General Equivalency Degree.
Jeremy Vrooman attended Lennox School District for part of his junior year, with his first two years at Brandon Valley, said Alan Rops, former Lennox High School principal.
He described Vrooman as a quiet and unassuming student, who had an interest in science and electronics.
“He dies for his country and I have the utmost respect for his service,” Rops said, adding he is a Vietnam veteran.
After receiving his military training, Vrooman was stationed at Fort Carson, Colo. He served his first tour in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 for 12 months, driving an ammunition truck, Lori Donahue said.
Vrooman then spent a few months as a recruiter in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, before deciding to join the Stryker unit in Germany, his father said.
“He was what every man should aspire to be, what every husband should aspire to be and what every father should hope to be,” Bruce Vrooman said.
Lori Donahue recalled her son loved to laugh and had an infectious smile. He loved playing with his kids, military vehicle models and fishing.
An attempt to reach Justin Vrooman through Facebook was unsuccessful. Justin Vrooman, 29, served as a helicopter pilot, and just finished his tour in Iraq, Donahue said. He was flying on Wednesday from Kuwait to New York, where he is stationed, Bruce Vrooman said.
Other than Jeremy’s family and brother, other survivors include half-sister Kierra Donahue; stepbrothers, Jason Donahue and Brad Steckelberg; and stepparents Wayne Donahur and Sue Vrooman.
A memorial service might take place in Sioux Falls, but the funeral is expected to be in San Antonio — his wife’s hometown, his parents said.
S.D. soldier to be buried Friday
The Associated Press
PIERRE, S.D. — The governor has asked that flags be flown at half staff on Friday in honor of Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy Vrooman, a South Dakota native who died July 15 during a combat operation in Iraq.
Vrooman, 28, will be buried Friday at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.
A memorial service is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 16 in Sioux Falls, where Vrooman was born. He attended schools in South Dakota and joined the Army in December 1999.
Vrooman was fatally injured when an improvised explosive device went off during a raid on a house.