Herald Journal, March 3, 2003
Childhood friends now serving their country in Marines
By Julie Yurek
Three childhood friends joined the Marine Corps, and now two of them are stationed near the Iraqi border.
Lance Cpl. Sean Drew and Lance Cpl. Andrew Roufs, both of Winsted, are in Kuwait waiting for orders from President Bush.
Pfc. Charlie Remer, of Howard Lake, is completing his nuclear biological chemical warfare (NBC) schooling in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Remer and his family will have to wait until the end of May to hear his next orders, which may be to join his fellow soldiers overseas or to return home.
The trio have been friends since kindergarten, said Diane Remer, Charlie's mother.
The families of the men are close and shared any information they get with one another.
Drew's parents are Mike Drew and Deann Quast, Roufs' are Terry and Frank Roufs, and Remer's parents are Diane and Doug Remer.
The three graduated from Holy Trinity in 2000.
Before enlisting in the military, Drew was working locally, Roufs was going to school for computers, and Remer attended Brown College.
Drew and Roufs signed up to join the Marines in August 2001, one month before the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., Cornish said.
Drew chose the Marines because his uncle, Matt Quast, and grandfather, Thomas Drew, both served in that branch; Thomas Drew is also a Korean War veteran, said Gabe Cornish of Duluth. Cornish is Drew's brother-in-law, married to Drew's sister, Sarah.
Drew and Roufs went to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) in San Diego, Calif. for boot camp in October 2001, Cornish said.
Though the two were in the same boot camp, Drew saw Roufs only once, while on a march, Remer said.
They graduated boot camp in January 2002, and then each received training in his respective field.
Drew is a field wireman for the mortar platoon, Cornish said. He is a part of the First Marine Division, third battalion, seventh Marines and is attached to a 81 mm motar group.
He sets up communication and relays information such as firing and position of troops back to the command post, Cornish said.
Drew left for the Middle East Jan. 20 on an airliner, the flight taking about 23 hours, Cornish said.
"Sean told us that when they arrived in the Kuwaiti international airport, many Kuwaitis were there, clapping and blessing them," Cornish said.
Drew has been able to call home once since arriving in the desert. The total length of the call was about five minutes, and there was a five second delay in communication, he said.
"The morale is really high among the troops, even though hot meals and showers are scarce," Sean told Cornish. "They're ready to do whatever their country asks them to do."
Mail and care packages take approximately two weeks to arrive, so the family has been sending care packages close together, Cornish said. "They're eating MREs meals ready to eat out there. They really like getting the care packages."
From what the family has gathered through news on the television and an article in the Feb. 4 issue of the Washington Post, Drew is stationed in the northern most camp in Kuwait, the closest camp to the Iraqi border. The article called the camp the "spearhead" of the operation, Cornish said.
Drew's unit is from 29 Palms, Calif., so the family has been able to get a general idea where he is at when the media reports about troops from that camp, Cornish said. For security reasons, Drew cannot say exactly where he's at.
After completing his training at Maryland for combat photography, Roufs returned to California and was at Camp Pendleton when he got his orders for deployment.
He and Drew left the same day, Jan. 20, Remer said.
Roufs was on one of seven ships that set sail from the camp to the Persian Gulf, said Terry Roufs, his mother. The last information she received from him indicated that he is in Kuwait, she said.
Roufs is a member of the weapons company, the first light armor vehicle (LAV) battalion of the Pathfinder Platoon, she said.
Roufs job as a combat photographer includes traveling in an LAV to document where the land lines are and do reconnaissance work, she said. An LAV has a machine gun and is smaller and less armored than a tank.
The Roufs received an e-mail from him last Monday, telling them he may be reassigned to a different division.
"They are good boys," Roufs said.
Roufs' son liked the personal growth and travel opportunities the Marine Corps offered, she said. "He's proud to be a Marine."
Remer decided to join the Marine Reserves after attending Roufs and Drew's boot camp graduation in January 2002.
"There was a spark in his eye after he went to their graduation, and I asked him if he was thinking of joining," Diane Remer said. "He said yes."
Remer signed up on the delayed entry program so he could graduate from Brown College in graphic arts and advertising in April 2002. He left for boot camp in October 2002.
He was in his friends' shoes one year later, graduating from boot camp at the MCRD in January, the same camp Roufs and Drew attended.
Roufs was able to attend Remer's graduation, but Drew was unable because he had already received his orders for deployment and soldiers cannot leave the base if they have been issued those orders, Remer said. "They don't know when they will be leaving."
"We're really proud of Charlie," Diane Remer said.
The Remers recently received a letter from Drew, saying that being a Marine is his job now, she said. "They are willing to do whatever they have to."
"When Charlie's done with his schooling, he may be called to go (overseas), and he knows that, and is willing. He signed up after Sept. 11, so he knew what it might mean."
"All three guys are very patriotic and proud to serve," Cornish said.