Marines helped soldier grow up, war taught him meaning of camaraderie.

By Linda Bruch for the Cut Bank Pioneer Press
Wednesday, March 1, 2006 7:54 PM MST

Death and destruction surround it. Danger and fear are an everyday part of it. Countries are destroyed in the name of it.

It's also about men and women performing a duty for which they've been trained. It's about protecting each other's backs. It's about serving their country.

There is one word that can replace the “it” in each of those sentences. When that three-letter word is said it can be in reference to horrible atrocities. In another context, however, it can be a source of pride as men and women defend their home lands and the ways of life they hold so dear.

The word is “war” and there is no doubt it's about death and destruction. However, it's also about the people proudly serving their country in a noble capacity beyond our imagination.

One of those men is United States Marine Sgt. Dillon Drews. He has seen first-hand the ugliness of war, having recently completed multiple tours of duty in Iraq. Yet, through it all, he will tell you, and without hesitation, what a privilege it is to serve his country as a United States Marine.

Drews first became interested in the armed forces as a junior in high school. He started putting the plans in motion and in 2002, following his high school graduation, went through and passed basic training. From there his life as a Marine began.

His stepdad, Cut Bank resident Mike Bruch, was glad he joined up. “He's a different man because of the Marines,” Bruch said. “He has come so far since basics, even receiving a couple promotions. Most recently he was promoted to Platoon Sergeant where he was put in charge of 25 other guys. I can't tell you how proud I am of the man he has become.”

Drews admits he was a bit of a handful for his step dad during his high school years. “The Marines really helped me grow up. I learned to take responsibility for my actions,” Drews said. “I manage myself better as a person, thanks to the Marines.”

Perhaps he has grown-up, managed his life and become a different man due to where he's been and what he's seen as a Marine. He's seen up close and personal the results of the war in Iraq. “I lost a few buddies over there. That part's tough,” said Drews. “Death can change a man.”

“As Marines, we are trained to deal with all aspects of war, including death, but certainly not limited to that. The Marines do a good job preparing us for everything we might experience during war time,” Drews said. The training is extensive and covers everything a Marine may need to know, in and out of battle, he added.

While most of his training took place at 29 Palms, which is his home base located in California, other phases took place overseas. Drews has seen a few corners of the world, like Japan and Australia, all thanks to Marine training.

Between the training and the incredible amount of technology and equipment they have at their disposal, the Marines are well-equipped and prepared. Drews agrees they have some excellent weaponry and machinery, which ensures their safety and provides them with the best in defense mechanisms. One of his favorites is the Humvee he drives. “My Humvee was hit four times, but those have awesome protection. They can get hit over and over again and you usually don't get hurt. They have an amazing armor system,” Drews said.

He down played an incident where his Humvee was hit and both he and another soldier were injured. Drews' injuries were less serious than the other soldier, who had to be airlifted to a German hospital following the incident. “This kind of stuff doesn't happen every day,” Drew admits, “but you can't become complacent. That's when people die. You have to be aware of your surroundings all the time. Even the kids over there (Iraq) can't be trusted. Some of them carry bombs and have been told to throw them at you. You have to be on alert all the time.”

“It's amazing how aware they are of what they are accomplishing over in Iraq,” said Bruch. “They know the job they are there to do and they have no doubts about finishing it.”

Bruch was treated to a short visit from his stepson just a few weeks ago. Drews just finished his second stint in Iraq and he headed to Cut Bank for some brief, but quality time with his step dad. Bruch said, “We'll take whatever time we can get. With his schedule, we never know when we'll get to see him next.”

Next for this Marine is some well deserved leave time with his buddies. Once again, thanks to the Marines, Drews has established some great friendships. The term “comrade in arms” has taken on a whole new meaning for him. “One of the cool things about the Marines is the camaraderie. My back's always covered and I know that. These are some great guys,” said Drews.

It would seem the Marines are due some credit for shaping this young man, his life and his future. Perhaps all of the branches of the service deserve some credit for molding the lives of thousands of men and women. However, there has to be a solid foundation for them to work with and build on. The Marines found that in Drews and the result is a man the Marines and his step dad are very proud of.

Thank you for your service, Sgt. Dillon Drews. The rest of us are proud of you, too.

U.S. Marine Sgt. Dillon Drews was in Cut Bank for a brief visit with his step dad, Mike Bruch, after serving multiple tours of duty in Iraq.