S.D. soldier killed in Iraqby Mark Steil, Minnesota Public Radio
A soldier from Sioux Falls was killed this week in Iraq. His father says Staff Sgt. Jeremy Vrooman died in an explosion in Diyala province, according to his father.
Sioux Falls, S.D. — Vrooman, 28, lived in the cities of Sioux Falls and Mitchell while growing up in South Dakota.
His father, Bruce Vrooman of Superior, Wis., says his son loved the outdoors, including hunting, fishing and mountain biking. He says Jeremy planned to make the military his career.
Vrooman says he found out Tuesday evening his son had been killed. He says all the Army told him was that his son died in the line of duty.
But Vrooman says he and other family members believe the soldier died in a house search when an explosive device detonated.
"In the paper yesterday there was an article about the two suicide bombs, the 28 people killed," said Vrooman. "Then it talks about the one soldier entering, going in to clear a house or a dwelling. We understand that was Jeremy."
It's not clear whether the house search was connected to the suicide bombings.
Jeremy Vrooman served in the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Iraq. Bruce Vrooman says his son had been in Iraq for only a few weeks when he died.
Bruce Vrooman says he last saw his son in January, during a visit to Germany where his son was stationed.
"The worst fears happened, and we're glad we took the time to do that trip," said Vrooman. "And even more than the love and the pride is the respect that we had for him as a man, as a father, as a son and soldier." Jeremy Vrooman was married and had a 5-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter.
Bruce Vrooman says he also had a second son serving in Iraq as a helicopter pilot when Jeremy died this week.
Justin Vrooman had been scheduled to leave Iraq in a few days. However following the death of Jeremy, he was flown out of the country immediately and was expected to return to the United States today.
Bruce Vrooman says there's been a long tradition of service in his family. He says both of his son's grandfathers served in the military.
Jeremy Vrooman's mother, Lori Donahue, lives in Sioux Falls, S.D. Donahue describes Jeremy as a fun-loving, energetic child with an infectious smile.
After she found out that her son had died in Iraq, she meet with Army officers who provided some details. Donahue says she still can't believe her son is gone. She says she's very concerned about every single soldier in Iraq.
"Don't forget about all our troops over there," said Donahue. "It is easy for people to do now, because it's been going on for so long. They have no idea."
The family says funeral services for Staff Sgt. Jeremy Vrooman will likely be held in Texas, and he will be buried in a military cemetery there.
- All Things Considered, 07/17/2008, 5:25 p.m.