Disclaimer: The following information came from Gold Star Mom Debbie Drexler and is posted here with her permission.
Jeremy was the oldest of three wonderful sons. They were all three born at Ft. Leavenworth Army hospital. Jeremy was born July 20, 1980. He was such a good baby. Then two years later his brother Tim was born July 18, 1982 and Kenny March 29, 1984.
All three of the boys joined the military around the same time period. Karl the father of the boys is Coast Guard. His family was all Coast Guard. However none of the boys chose that branch. Jeremy went in the Army, Tim Navy, and Ken Marines. These boys had a tough time growing up. As hard as we tried, they did not have the same things other kids had. So in order to do better for themselves they went into the military to take advantage of the education promised to them. Jeremy did not have that opportunity to use his, his life ended too soon.
Jeremy loved the Army. He grew into such a well adjusted young man. His self esteem improved, and things were starting to turn for the better for him. He was the type of person that made friends wherever he would go. Never asking for anything in return, always doing for others. He gave all he had. I heard a story from my son after Jeremy had died that Jeremy cooked his last piece of hamburger for a stray cat because the cat was hungry. Jeremy’s heart was so big. He loved animals, cared about everyone and everything. He would come home after working all day and help someone move or mow their lawn. Even though he could have used the money, he never took it. He gave all of himself in whatever he did. He put time into serving his platoon above and beyond duty to make sure he did the very best he could. He was the first to go out shooting and the last to go to bed I have been told. His commander told me stories how he was responsible for saving many lives and the soldiers he was with. He did not receive honor metals but he deserved to be respected and honored.
Jeremy was so worried that when the other sons were over there in Iraq that I would be so worried about them. These boys are my world; I can’t bear the thought of losing even one of them. He asked my neighbor to watch over his mom. I was a nervous wreck with him over there. He did not want me to receive a flag on his behalf he told my neighbor. But I DID.
Christmas 2003 was the last time he came home before going to IRAQ. He was so extremely quite during this visit. I could tell something was worrying him. He kept a happy face the best he could but I knew he must have had moments he feared something bad would happen to him. I asked him the famous question, god forbid anything would happen to you, do you know where your soul would go? He assured me all is well with him and God so I drop it immediately.
His best friend came to take him back to Ft. Hood and as Jeremy leaves, I give him a big hug and kiss and told him I loved him. When I went back inside I felt a heavy black cloud commusing me and I knew then that was going to be the last time I would ever have with him alive. I cried all day. Could not shake this feeling.
He went to Iraq after leaving all his earthly belongings to his fellow soldiers. Instead to putting his stuff in storage, he had given it to his fellow soldier buddies to hold until he came back. So even his car was reposed and his stuff was gone after his death. I did not ask them to return anything. It was my son’s wishes for them to keep that stuff. I did get one of his uniforms, his boots, and a photo of him with an angel beside him while he was mopping. When I saw this photo, (a year later) my heart felt some peace. He is with God.
Once my son was buried, my heart shattered in millions of pieces, we were soon forgotten. Kansas has done nothing for our fallen. I have been trying for 5 years to get a memorial built for ALL our fallen only to be blown off. I have stood face to face with all our state officials many times. I did not get any help, they just walked away. I have written letters too, nothing. I stand alone in my fight for our soldiers. Others just accept it. I would like to have something done for our soldiers; I even will provide a statue so it won’t cost the state anything just place it somewhere honorable and secure. I wish I could get some help from a famous person to help raise the money needed to buy the land and do it myself but that will never happen for me. Things for me always come with a high price. I wish for help with my yard issues, a new van, or even help building a new deck but that is only a dream. I have to die knowing I have let my son down. HE IS FORGOTTEN. But I will never forget him.
Jeremy’s soldier buddies gave him the nickname Spider Monkey because he could go where no other could. He loved Monkey’s. I would love to have a plaque near the Monkey cage at the Zoo for him but the man that said he would retired. So even that is put off. I continue my fight!
His hobbies were collecting Marlyn Mansion CD’s, loved Spider Man, X-man, and Stitch and Pokey man. We tried to find the Stitch stuff animal but they were not made yet. He wanted to take it to IRAQ with him. Instead he took the Pokey man dude and a flintstones pillow.
I was sitting on the porch one day, thinking about the son we lost to this war and thoughts came to me, What is an American Idol? Should it be a singer or someone that has a talent or should it be someone that really truly is a true American idol.
I envision myself going on the stage, carrying my son’s boots and hat, following behind me only a few feet are two handsome soldiers in full uniform, carrying the U.S. flag between them. One a Marine and One a Sailor, both so handsome, and both my sons.
All eyes are on us as we approach the center of the stage with the light following us. Standing in front are the judges with the names: Honor, Pride, and Freedom. I reached for the microphone, hands trembling and tears running down my face. "I am only a mother, I have no talent to speak of, and of all I have done in this world, nothing is greater than raising three honorable and fine sons. One gave his life for the freedoms, freedom that we take for granted. The Freedom judge had tears in her eyes and she rose to her feet and said, " I know their names, I know what they've done. As long as there is life, they will never be forgotten."
Off to the side a small young boy stands up and started walking toward the stage. He comes up to me with big blue eyes looking up at me. I kneeled down and placed the boots on the floor next to me. He stands directly in front of me. “ Lady, you don’t know me, I was to be your grandson, but because my daddy was killed so young, I was never born.” Tears streamed down my face as I reached out to touch him. All I could feel was air.
Another shadow came toward me from off in the distance. As it got closer, I could make out the face. It was my dear son Jeremy in full dress Army uniform, proud as could be. I could not move. I did know how that could be. Standing in front of me, sad eyes, and a little smile he begin to speak. “ MOM do not worry about me, I know you are in pain. Do not grieve so much that it consumes you. I am proud of what I have done for our country and I am so proud of my brothers.”
“I will see you again someday. I know you feel I have been forgotten, but I am not. My father in heaven knows and so do you. As long as you remember me, I know I have done good. ” I gave him a hug and kiss and he walked behind me where his brothers stood. They could not believe what they were seeing and was struck with awe. I turned to see what was going on and Jeremy was standing in front of them, in attention and he gives them a salute.
“ You are my brothers, I am very pleased and proud of you. I will always be with you and I will be there when you need me. You may not be able to see me but I am there.” He steps back a few more steps, raising his hand and gave them a final salute. He clicks his heels and turns to walk away, he reaches out his hand to the little boy and they walk off the stage holding hands and on their backs were angels wings.
I can’t believe what had just happened. Could this have really happened? I looked at the judges, they were all standing up. I could not control the crying no matter how hard I tried. I picked up the boots, turned and walked of stage. My sons followed behind me carrying the dear old flag.
Our Soldiers are our Real American Idols. Heroes that should receive all utmost respect and honor. We must remember what they have done and are still doing. Don’t blow off the lives of the fallen. Make sure not one soldier is forgotten and go unloved. Bring our troops home and take care of them when they get here. I speak with a shattered heart, I beg with all my soul…
“Do not forget our fallen heroes.”
Debbie Drexler is the mother of three amazing sons all of whom joined the military. Her oldest, Jeremy, joined the Army in 2002 and was KIA in Iraq in 2004. Her middle child, Timothy, joined the Navy. Her youngest, Kenneth, joined the Marine Corps. Her husband, Karl, was in the Coast Guard.
Debbie, thank you for being so supportive of your sons. Karl, Jeremy, Timothy, and Kenneth, thank you for your service.
Debbie, thank you also for sharing Jeremy's story. I hope this helps.