North Pole resident Army Sgt. Derek T. Stenroos was killed Monday, Nov. 5, 2007, in Tal Al-Dahab, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations. He was 24.
A memorial service will be held at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16 at Friends Community Church, 1485 30th Ave., Fairbanks.
Sgt. Stenroos was assigned to the 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) Fort Drum, N.Y. He was born in Fairbanks on Feb. 15, 1983. Sgt. Stenroos attended Ticasuk Brown Elementary, North Pole Middle and graduated from North Pole High in 2001.
"He loved hockey and played in the Fairbanks Amateur Hockey League and was a goalie for the North Pole Patriots. He coached many children and passed on his love of the sport. On his MySpace page he had a quote 'If there's no hockey in heaven, I'm not going,'" his family said. "Music was another of his passions, and under the direction of his favorite teacher and mentor, Bruce Hanson, Derek sang in the NPHS Mannerchor, jazz and concert choirs. He loved to hunt, shoot paintballs, play computer games and watch videos with friends."
Sgt. Stenroos attended basic and advanced training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., in January 2004 and was stationed at Fort Drum in June 2004. His awards and honors include the Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Army Service Ribbon and the Combat Action Badge.
"He was trained as a combat military policeman and made the ultimate sacrifice while serving his country. Derek touched the hearts of many during his short life," his family said.
Sgt. Stenroos was preceded in death by his grandfathers, John Pierson and Marvin Stenroos.
He is survived by his father, Terrance Stenroos; mother, Kenita Stenroos and partner, Veronica Belton; grandmothers, Patricia Stenroos and Kathryn (Kitty) Pierson; aunts, uncles and cousins, Tim Stenroos, partner, Paula Forstner and daughter, Holly Vermeersch, husband, Chad, and daughters, Madi and Emily; Jonna and Grant Encelewski and daughters, Jenessa and Laurina; Loretta Rees, sons, Paul and Jody Suomi, daughter, Nicole Suomi and husband, Randy, and their son, Rylan Clavell; Jaci and Dan Marchetti and children, David and T.J. Scott and Kevin Merkling; Shaun and Dawn Pierson and children Christopher Hoopes, Jessie, Debbie Loring, Hannah Daniel, Jacob, Olivia, Tyler and Jordan; Mark and Maria Pierson and daughters Kirsten and Krystal; Rick and Kathy Port and children Chris, Amy and Will; Dale and Susan Suomi; great-aunts, Colleen Blade and Betty Dodson; great-uncles, Pat (Phyliss) Burbie and Jim Burbie; and many other relatives.
"He will be forever in the hearts of his best friend, Peter Reed and Mary and Jeff Reed, Sarah and Jon Martin, Will and Jessie Dooley, the Belton family and all who knew and loved him," his family said.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made in Derek's memory to the North Pole High School Choir Fund at 601 NPHS Boulevard, North Pole, AK 99705.
Condolences may be sent to P.O. Box 84476, Fairbanks, AK 99708.
Arrangements were made by Fairbanks Funeral Home and Crematory.
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