Derek's battle through the world started with his birth. He was born premature with gastrochisis. He had hernia surgeries as a result at age 2 months and 6 years. Notwithstanding this, he grew into a strong, healthy boy. We almost lost him at age 14 when he had an incarcerated bowel. But Derek survived and grew into the strong, brave man he is.
Derek graduated from West Essex High School in 2008 and entered the U.S.Army in January 2010. After finishing Air Borne training, he was assigned to Catamount, B Co, 2-87 at Fort Drum, New York.
Derek's deployment began on March 18, 2011 when he shipped out to Afghanistan. He was upbeat and ready to serve his country.
Derek previously took Tae Kwon Do classes earning the rank of brown belt. He left Tae Kwon Do and pursued mixed martial arts. He keeps in shape by working out and running.
Derek met his wonderful fiancee Krystina four years ago. Krystina Dressler has been a source of strength, support and love for Derek since that time. We love her, and she is part of our family, just as Derek is part of the Pizza/Dressler family.
Derek's world changed on July 23, 2011 when he and another soldier encountered a pressure plate IED while on patrol. Although he has lost his left leg from the hip and the right left high above the knee, we are taking bets as to how long it is before he runs the NYC marathon, and how long he lasts before taking off his new leg and beating his little brother Sean with it.
Derek has always been a fighter, and as he begins this ultimate battle of his life, we know that he will do it with the strength and grace he has shown in entire life.
You are welcome to join us in our journey through this new normal.
Thank you for all of your support, prayers, well wishes, etc. Without the love and support of family and friends around the world, this would be a much more difficult journey. Thank you for sharing this journey with us.