BRIAN DERKS // Veterans Day

White Cloud, Michigan

I’m not sure if the Derks remember me but I always remember them. Every Veterans Day, and lots of days in between since 2005, the Derks family finds its way into my thoughts. Twelve years ago, I covered the funeral of Army Spc. 4th Class Brian Derks for The Muskegon Chronicle. He was only 21 when he was killed in a roadside bombing while on patrol in west of Baghdad. I remember how the small town of White Cloud collectively mourned with his family. When I think of November 11th, Brian Derks will be a name that will always stay with me. To all the veterans and their families, thank you. You’re not forgotten.

Brian Derks Veterans Day

Rebecca Bird, 18, right, and her mother, Marian, both of White Cloud, hold candles and flags as a procession containing Brian Derks’ family and his body (seen bottom left) passes along M-37 through White Cloud just after 11 p.m. Friday. A “Ceremonial Formation” consisting of hundreds of townspeople lined M-37 to welcome home Derks’ family and his body. © Kendra Stanley-Mills/Muskegon Chronicle

Brian Derks Veterans Day

A Crandell Funeral Home employee places flowers outside of the First Christian Reformed Church in Fremont before the start of the funeral for Army Spc. 4th Class Brian K. Derks. Derks was buried with full military honors Monday at the White Cloud Cemetery. Derks, 21, was killed in a roadside bombing on Aug. 13 while on patrol west of Baghdad. The military played Taps and performed a 21-gun salute during the funeral. © Kendra Stanley-Mills/Muskegon Chronicle

Brian Derks Veterans Day

Friends and family gather around the hearse as Army Spc. 4th Class Brian K. Derks’ coffin is loaded outside of the First Christian Reformed Church, 721 Hillcrest, Fremont Monday. Derks, 21, was buried at the White Cloud Cemetery with full military honors. © Kendra Stanley-Mills/Muskegon Chronicle

Brian Derks Veterans Day

Norman Ochs, of White Cloud, wipes away tears as he talks about fallen soldier Army Spc. 4th Class Brian Derks. Derks was a friend of the family and often helped Ochs with computer problems at his office as Newaygo County Surveyor. © Kendra Stanley-Mills/Muskegon Chronicle

Brian Derks Veterans Day

Veterans of VFW Post 2053 in White Cloud, from left, Carl Hult, Ray Larson, Bob Auw and Wilfred Archer salute a flag at the family home of fallen soldier Army Spc. 4th Class Brian Derks late Thursday afternoon. Area Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops put up a flag pole as a surpise for Derks family. The Derks home is located at 1425 2 Mile Rd. © Kendra Stanley-Mills/Muskegon Chronicle

Brian Derks Veterans Day

Army Spc. 4th Class Brian K. Derks was buried at the White Cloud Cemetery with full military honors Monday. Derks’ flag-draped casket was taken into the cemetery on a horse drawn hearse. Derks, 21, was killed in a roadside bombing on Aug. 13 while on patrol west of Baghdad. The military played Taps and performed a 21-gun salute during the funeral. © Kendra Stanley-Mills/Muskegon Chronicle

Brian Derks Veterans Day

Char Bier, right, hugs Undersheriff of Osceola County Dave Fowler as Deputy Craig Goodspeed with the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office keeps an eye on things outside of the First Christian Reformed Church in Fremont before the start of the funeral for Army Spc. 4th Class Brian K. Derks Monday. Bier is a good friend of Peggy Derks, Brian’s mother. Derks was buried with full military honors Monday at the White Cloud Cemetery. Derks, 21, was killed in a roadside bombing on Aug. 13 while on patrol west of Baghdad. The military played Taps and performed a 21-gun salute during the funeral. © Kendra Stanley-Mills/Muskegon Chronicle

Brian Derks Veterans Day

Danielle Alexander, 14, of White Cloud Girl Scout Troop 233, holds the flag they will display at the family home of fallen soldier Army Spc. 4th Class Brian Derks. Area Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops put up a flag pole Thursday as a surpise for the Derks family. Butch Deur, assistant scout master, center, and Ron Larson, scout master of Troop 1137, helped with erecting the flag pole. The Derks home is located at 1425 2 Mile Rd. © Kendra Stanley-Mills/Muskegon Chronicle

Brian Derks Veterans Day

Sally Derks, sister of fallen soldier Army Spc. 4th class Brian K. Derks, touches the words engraved on a rock memorial outside White Cloud High School. Derks, 21, was killed Aug. 13, 2005, by a roadside bomb explosion in Iraq. © Kendra Stanley-Mills/Muskegon Chronicle

Brian Derks Veterans Day

Keith and Peggy Derks, the parents of fallen soldier Army Spc. 4th Class Brian K. Derks, stand in their White Cloud home surrounded by flowers, photographs, American flags and cards that were sent in honor and remembrance of Brian. Peggy wears Brian’s dog tags around her neck. © Kendra Stanley-Mills/Muskegon Chronicle

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