Wertish family brings slain soldier home to Olivia
OLIVIA - The body of Spc. James Wertish, 20, one of three Minnesota National Guard soldiers killed in an insurgent attack last week at a military base near Basra, Iraq, has returned home.
Wertish's body was flown into the National Guard Base in St. Paul, where he was met by family and a military honor guard. His body was escorted by two contingents of the Patriot Guard riders from the base to the Wertish family farm south of Olivia. The body was later taken to the Dirks-Blem Funeral Home in Olivia.
All along U.S. Highway 212 today, people came out to honor Wertish as his body and escort passed through. Many saluted or waved flags as the long line of vehicles that escorted him passed by.
The other soldiers killed in the attack on July 16 were Spc. Carlos E. Wilcox IV, 27, of Cottage Grove, and Spc. Daniel P. Drevnick, 22, of Woodbury. Spc. Jacob Benson, 22, of Willmar was injured in the attack. All were members of the 34th Military Police, 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division of the Minnesota National Guard.
Wertish's funeral will be at 11 a.m. Monday at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Bird Island. Visitation is at the church from 3 to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Drevnick's funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at King of Kings Lutheran Church in Woodbury, with burial at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, according to the Associated Press.
Wilcox's funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the Light of Way Church in Cottage Grove, according to the South Washington County Bulletin. A 10 a.m. wake will precede the service.