I personally never met Sgt. Derek McConnell. I followed his story for months now. I emailed back and forth with his mom, Sioban Mary Fuller, and his fiancee’ Krystina Dressler. I felt like I knew the family for years. I followed their posts and his progress on Facebook. I am speechless for words. Tonight, as I get in bed after a long day at work, I open up Facebook, like I been doing for months, looking for posts on “Team Derek.” I read the following post, which brought tears of my eyes. I am speechless. RIP Derek.
From the post on Facebook, posted at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Monday, March 18 by Krystina Dressler:
This morning, I went to wake Derek up at his normal time for the MATC and, he didn’t wake up…I tried everything I could think of. I held out hope when I listened for a heartbeat as I tried to wake him and there was none, and even still held out hope when they told me he was gone.I will miss you everyday, Derek. For your shenanigans, for always making me laugh, for being an amazing person, for loving me and all my craziness, for your insanities that drove me up a wall, for being there for me through everything. You gave me the best 6 years I could have ever asked for with someone. I know you’ll always be with me. I tried everything I could to help you today. I hope you know that, I’m so sorry. :[ I will always love you. You will forever be my toooots and ill forever be your crazy broad. Heaven gained an amazing angel today. I know you we’re greeted by my papa, my great grandma, my uncle richie, your amazing grandma and great grandma.
I love you, for always Derek
KRYSTINA YOU ARE A VERY SPECIAL PERSON. — staff at Parsippany Focus
Krystina, Derek and Derek’s mom, Sioban Mary Fuller. Derek passed away in his sleep at the Wounded Warrior Center, Bethesda/Walter Reed. Complications from wounds (double amputee) suffered in July 2011, Afghanistan.
On July 23, 2011 Derek McConnell was out on a dismounted patrol and hit 2 IED’s. The first one just knocked him out. He could have stood down, but he got right back up and that’s when he hit the second. He suffered from a left hip disarticulation (leg gone from hip), right high above the knee amputation, skull fracture, TBI, jaw fracture in three places, missing teeth, broken ulna (arm in limb salvage and somewhat functioning), blast wounds and internal injuries. He battled serious infections and pneumonia for over three months, spent 53 days total in the ICU, and 7 months total as an inpatient.
Please make a donation in his memory. Click here for additional information.
A viewing for the soldier will be held Monday, April 1 from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Par-Troy Funeral Home, 92 Parsippany Road, according to his mother, Sioban Mary Fuller.
A funeral mass will be held in North Caldwell Tuesday, April 2 at 11:00 a.m., where he lived as a youth, at Notre Dame Roman Catholic Church, 359 Central Avenue.
Burial will take place, not at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, according to the grieving mother’s post on the Team Derek Facebook page, but at the Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington.
In lieu of flowers, she said her son “would have liked donations in his name to the following non-profits who gave him so much love and support”:
- Adopt a Soldier Platoon
- Operation Ward 57
- Family and Friends for Freedom Fund
- Help Our Military Heroes
- 4 Paws For Ability