Michael Avery Pursel
Corporal, United States Army
RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 560-07 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 9, 2007
Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of six Soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died May 6, 2007, in Baqubah, Iraq, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat operations. They were assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Washington.
Staff Sergeant Vincenzo Romeo, 23, of Lodi,
For further information on these Soldiers, contact the Fort Lewis public affairs office at (253) 967-0154 or (253) 967-0147.
Mourning 'soldier at heart'
Hooper man honored for making the ultimate sacrifice
Scores of mourners wearing fatigues, green Army uniforms and Air Force dress blues paid their respects to a fallen peer Thursday.
The funeral for Michael Pursel, 19, of Hooper, was a show of gratitude and respect, not only for him, but for all those who wear a military uniform.
Pursel was killed along with five other soldiers when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle in Baqubah, Iraq. All six of the soldiers were deployed from Fort Lewis, Washington.
"Michael was a pistol," said his mother, Terry Dutcher. "He was a handful. He gave us a run for our money. He was a soldier at heart."
Dutcher, a Captain at Hill Air Force Base's 419th Fighter Wing, said her son was living his dream in the military. His father, Dean Pursel, also served in the Army before retiring.
He shared the story of his son, when only a small child, yelling at soldiers to drop and do push-ups.
"I'm just thankful for the 19 years I had with him because some families don't have that much time," Dean Pursel said.
Family and friends spoke of Michael Pursel as someone who was persistent in getting what he wanted, but who also had a mischievous streak. His mother told of a time that he stubbornly sat for hours in a waiting room until a spot for him in the infantry could be arranged.
"I said, 'How long are you going to wait?' He said, 'However long it takes.' "
He was also someone willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice, said his pastor, Stephen Bradley.
"I know that if he had the chance, Michael would do it again," Bradley said.
Michael Pursel was also a car enthusiast.
"Mike used to have a lot of problems with his car," said his stepfather, Jeff Dutcher. "He would always try to fix it, but he would always break it."
Jeff Dutcher told of a time recently when he felt he had finally bonded with his stepson.
"I told him I was proud of him," he said. "Anything he wanted to do, I was proud of him."
Many who spoke of Michael Pursel also thanked other military in the room for their commitment. Flags flew across the Myers Mortuary grounds as members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a group of motorcyclists who attend military funerals, stood outside.
Terry Dutcher urged those who attended the funeral to thank military members they come across.
Michael Pursel was given military honors at Lindquist Memorial Park following the funeral. Major General Kevin Sullivan, commander of Hill Air Force Base's Ogden Air Logistics Center, presented Terry Dutcher with the flag that draped her son's casket.
Michael Pursel's cremated remains will be buried
Monday at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
When he was just a small child, Michael Pursel received a tiny Army uniform from his parents. They thought he'd be thrilled.
They were wrong.
"These just aren't right," Pursel's mother, Terry Dutcher, recalled her son saying. "I have no rank. I have no patch. I have no name."
For as long as anyone could remember, Pursel wanted to be a soldier.
He will be buried later this week among thousands of other soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Pursel was one of seven people, including six U.S. soldiers and a Russian journalist, who died May 6, 2007, in Baqubah, Iraq, when a bomb detonated near their vehicle.
On Thursday morning, the 19-year-old former Clinton resident was remembered for his love of his family and friends, of basketball, cars and the outdoors, and - maybe most of all - the Army he served.
Both of Pursel's parents and his stepfather served or are serving in the military.
Dean Pursel, a former Army drill sergeant, recalled bringing his then-4-year-old son to work one day. On his father's command, the little boy screamed for a group of young recruits to "drop" and then watched in amusement as the soldiers fell to the floor and began doing push-ups.
Pursel entered the Army Reserve as a combat engineer, but family members said his dream was to become an active-duty Army Ranger. When a recruiter told him the only way to fulfill that dream was to return for a second trip through basic training, the young soldier didn't flinch - "I didn't learn enough the first time anyway," he told his family.
"He loved the military and he loved what he was doing," Dean Pursel said.
Indeed, Michael Pursel wrote on a personal Web page that he was "living the dream."
"Even though I am at war, I am still having the time of my life," the soldier wrote from the volatile Diyala Province. "I chose to come over here. I wasn't made to come. This is something I've always wanted to do."
Dutcher said she is finding comfort in the knowledge that her son had reconnected with his Christian roots in the final month of his life and was doing what he believed was right, just and important.
"We don't all get to do what we want to do," she said. "But Michael did."
PURSEL, MICHAEL AVERY
Posted: 18 May 2007 Updated: 21 May 2007 Updated: 3 June 2007 Updated: 2 July 2007 Updated: 16 July 2007 Updated: 18 November 2007
Photo Courtesy of Holly, July 2007
Photo Courtesy of Holly, June 2007