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Sister honors little brother killed in action: 'He will always be in Afghanistan'

Posted at 11:03 AM, Sep 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-02 20:45:33-04

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. -- Images link Sarah Geisen to the precious past.

“I watch the video all of the time. I feel I was just there,” Geisen said. “They get me through.”

For the Stafford County woman, the images are laced with pain.

“It seems like yesterday but forever ago at the same time,” she said. “He earned his Green Beret in the Spring of 2017. And then deployed in August of 2018."

Three years ago on November 27.

“It was 10:53 in the morning,” Sarah said.

She received a call from the wife of her younger brother Drew.

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“She just said he’s gone. There was not much else she could get out,” she said.

Captain Drew Ross was killed by a roadside explosion in Afghanistan.

“It’s been the never-ending deployment,” Geisen said. “He will always be in Afghanistan.”

The 29-year-old special forces soldier was serving his second tour.

“It is a roller coaster you don’t want to be on,” Geisen said. “I’m missing a limb to a point and I always will be.”

Geisen, who is married to a Marine and mother of three boys with another on the way, wanted her children to know everything about their Uncle Drew.

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“He would have been a huge part of their daily lives,” she said.

The family frequently talks about the West Point graduate and visits his gravesite at Arlington.

“They’re getting to the age where they’re asking questions and those questions are getting tough to answer,” she said.

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Geisen admits sadness comes in waves.

“We call them Drew Days. Tough Drew Days,” she said. “The tough Drew Days can be pretty tough.”

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Watching Afghanistan fall to the Taliban was especially tough.

“You know everything is happening there on the soil where he took his last breath. Where he tried to do good for the world and the people of Afghanistan,” Geisen said. “There are a million emotions. There is anger. There is confusion. There is deep sadness.”

In the chaos of America’s withdrawal, Sarah found hope.

“I was able to sleep better in a week and a half knowing his family was out,” Geisen said.

An Afghan soldier who fought alongside Drew recently escaped with his family thanks to Geisen’s efforts.

“They have given so much. They were there the day when we lost Drew. They experienced that more closely than I could,” Geisen said. “They saw his smile more recently than I had.”

Gold Star Families is a fraternity Sarah Geisen never wanted to join. But she is determined to carry on Drew’s legacy.

“My brother and husband make it easy to say this is what a respectable good man is,” Geisen said. “This is what I want you to be.”

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Geisen is the driving force behind the Drew Ross Memorial Foundation.

“I mean he was the never-give-up kind of guy,” Geisen said.

A service-oriented non-profit which will mirror Drew’s approach to life.

“He just wanted to be the best for everyone, his country, and himself. He always put everyone else first,” Geisen said. "You just wish you could go back and pepper him for more pictures of him on deployment. There is never quite enough."

Old snapshots and memories are all Sarah Geisen has of her little brother.

“They help but they make it harder at the same time,” Geisen said. “Sometimes you just need to look at them and cry.”

But through Drew’s dedication, this big sister is finding new inspiration every day.

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“The thing I want people to know about Drew is that he never quit,” Geisen said. “That quality in him is what I try to make sure I instill in myself.”

Drew’s name was recently engraved on a glass panel at the Virginia War Memorial.

The Virginia War Memorial honors all Virginians who died defending our nation.

Greg McQuade features local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email heroes@wtvr.com.

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