Schweinfurt remembers 2 fallen soldiers
June 22, 2007
SCHWEINFURT, Germany — Spc. Josh D. Brown never missed with his rifle during weapons qualification. Sgt. Shawn E. Dressler never missed an opportunity to smile.
Those are but a couple of the reasons the pair will be sorely missed by the “Dagger Brigade.”
For a second day in a row, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team community gathered for a memorial ceremony to pay final respects to 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment soldiers killed in Baghdad. Brown and Dressler were members of the battalion’s Company A.
They were on patrol June 2 when a makeshift bomb struck their vehicle. Dressler, 22, of Santa Maria, Calif., died instantly. Brown, 26, of Tampa, Fla., was badly wounded and unconscious, and died a day later.
Dressler, an imposing soldier with a boyish face, was remembered as the guy who, after a long day, would go up to a group of his buddies with his big smile “singing a country song, dancing around or talking about Jesus,” Spc. Matthew Tolios, one of Dressler’s friends, said during a memorial service in Baghdad, earlier this month.
Spc. Nathan Scott read Tolios’ comments Thursday during the memorial ceremony at the Ledward Barracks chapel.
“I’m sure he was just as tired as all of us,” Tolios had said, “but he would do this so we could laugh.”
Because Dressler was always joking around, “[W]e struggled to find a couple of serious photos of him,” Sgt. Steven A. Castillo said, reading the comments made by Capt. Donald Johnson, the pair’s company commander, at the ceremony in Iraq. “This proved to be a difficult task, primarily because he made the most of every moment he had with his friends and brothers.”
Tolios spoke with Dressler’s wife, Amanda, who told Tolios that during phone calls with her husband, he spoke often and lovingly of the soldiers he fought alongside.
Dressler, who joined the Army in September 2002, was on his second tour in Iraq. Brown, who joined in July 2005, was on his first deployment.
Brown’s relative inexperience in combat didn’t keep the soldier from volunteering for any dangerous job that needed to be done.
After getting onto his unit’s weapons squad, “he would beg to get the opportunity to gun on a truck,” Staff Sgt. Jesse Cunningham said, reading comments made by Brown’s squad leader, Sgt. Isaiic Healy, at the memorial ceremony in Baghdad.
Brown married his wife, Elizabeth, two months before he was killed. “He told me about the wedding and showed me pictures with the biggest smile on his face,” Healy said.
Johnson said that when you think of Brown, words such as pride, self-confidence and maturity would come to mind along with “enough cockiness thrown in that you couldn’t help but love him.”
“I remember every time I saw him, whether it was in Kuwait or here in Iraq,” Johnson said. “The first words out of his mouth were always something related to how his squad and platoon were the best.”
At the end of the ceremony, Chaplain (Col.) James Brown recounted stories told to him by the 1-18 chaplain, Capt. Seth George, who knew both soldiers well.
Months before the unit deployed, George posed a trivia question to Brown and others as they stood in line for breakfast. Brown came back at George with one of his own – “Chaplain, who was Mephibosheth?”
“Chaplain George realized right then that he had an interesting soldier on his hands,” Brown said.
George also told Brown a story about Dressler.
During a worship service, George couldn’t remember a Bible verse and asked, “What is that verse in John which says something about not having greater love than his?” Brown said.
“Without missing a beat, Sgt. Dressler said,” of John 15:13, “‘No man has greater love than his, but that he may lay down his life for another.’”