Retired Army Staff Sgt. Deriek Crouse, a Virginia Tech campus police officer, was fatally shot in the line of duty Dec. 8 during a routine traffic stop. Monday, family, friends, students, soldiers and over 2,000 law enforcement personnel gathered for a solemn funeral at the Cassell Coliseum on the Virginia Tech campus to honor Crouse's life of service.
As members of the military we must face the threat of losing a friend or fellow soldier, but it is never easy to say good-bye, no matter the circumstances.
With an emotional speech, friend and fellow 424th Transportation Company soldier, Sgt. Danny Sweeney, spoke at the funeral about his relationship with Crouse saying, "His unique personality definitely made him one of a kind and I know he would rather we celebrate his life today than mourn his passing, but that has proven to be difficult for me and many others."
As difficult as it may have been, no one was ordered to participate or told to say a final good-bye. Everyone who attended was there because it was understood that Crouse had given the ultimate sacrifice. The Army never leaves a fallen comrade and will always honor those who serve with respect and selfless service; especially soldiers like Crouse.
Col. Brian Peterson, 38th Regional Support Group commander and the officer in charge for the military funeral detail said, "I considered it an honor to recognize Deriek's honorable and faithful service."
A repeated theme throughout the funeral was service and that Crouse was someone who cared deeply about the soldiers under his command, the officers he worked with and the students of Virginia Tech.
Sweeney added, "Deriek earned the right to lead troops as a noncommissioned officer and always worked to be the best soldier that he could be. You could tell that he was one of the best that the Army could offer."
The final paragraph of the Noncommissioned Officer creed is, "I will not compromise my integrity, nor my moral courage. I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are professionals, Noncommissioned Officers, leaders"
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Deriek Crouse lived those words throughout his Army career and carried them on as a Virginia Tech Police Officer and devoted father. Crouse is survived by his wife Tina, son Dustin, four stepsons, and parents Tony Crouse and Bonita Arnold.