FORWARD OPERATING BASE WILSON, Afghanistan — Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment mourned the loss of a fallen Soldier during a memorial service, Oct. 29, at Forward Operating Base Wilson.
Pfc. Devin J. Michel, of Stockton, Ill., died Oct. 24 when enemy forces attacked his platoon with an improvised explosive device. Michel joined the Army in 2008 and deployed to Afghanistan, May 24. He leaves behind his wife, Anika.
"It is absolutely devastating to lose him to an incident like this after we have begun to make a difference in this critical area of Afghanistan," said Lt. Col. Reik Andersen, 1-12 IN commander. "Our current successes on the field of battle can be squarely set on his shoulders as well as the shoulders of his valiant comrades of 3rd Platoon."
Soldiers from the 1-12 IN Battalion Charlie Company, 3rd Platoon, remembered PFC Michel for his ability to make you laugh, his calm under fire and his unfaltering work ethic.
"Devin's positive attitude, unwavering determination and courage are all qualities that he displayed on a daily basis," said Capt. Duke Reim, C-CO commander, as he recalled Michel in a firefight, firing his M4, radio strapped to his back, pausing to call up reports in between magazine changes. "Cool and calm, 'The Rock,'" he said. "These I think will solidify his legacy among all who knew him. He is the very finest of America's sons and we will always remember him."
Friends of Michel -- Soldiers who worked with him everyday -- talked about the man they had grown to love.
"Devin Jay Michel was possibly one of the brightest, most courageous, dedicated men I have ever known," said Pfc. Robert Lyons, who talked about Michel giving up a basketball scholarship to instead join the U.S. Army and serve his country. "He was my best friend, my fellow Soldier, but more importantly, he was my brother. I love you Devin."
Spc. Tony Ruiz spoke of Michel as a friend who was always there for him.
"Michel was one of a kind, whose personality spoke for itself to those who knew him," said Ruiz. "He touched our lives in his own way and became our brother. Until the time comes for us to meet at Heaven's door, be at peace. Rest easy my brother, for the line has held, your job is done."
The service ended with a 21-gun salute, taps and a flyover by two OH-58 Kiowa helicopters. Digital pictures of Michel flashed on a screen before the memorial and as music played, hundreds of mourners moved in a long line in front of a set of symbolic remains to pay their last respects.
"Never drafted into war, Devin volunteered, in an America where things were good — no depression — he wanted to serve," said Reim. "Michel gallantly approached his destiny with the family of C Company. Together, he has given selflessly to a noble cause. May God continue to bless us and guide our actions; and may he comfort Devin's family in this, their time of need."