Sergeant Colton Levi Derr suffered with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following his combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. In support of America’s War on Terror during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, SGT Derr, US Army 1st Division, completed over 500 combat missions.
Colton succumbed to suicide within six weeks of arriving stateside from his Afghanistan deployment.
The family of Sergeant Colton Levi Derr formed this non-profit foundation in his name. We honor Colton by helping other veterans and soldiers who battle PTSD and TBI.
Sergeant Colton Levi Derr
October 1, 1987 - April 28, 2012
On Thursday, a clear fall day on October 1, 1987, God entrusted Colton to his parents, until He called him home for another mission. Colton grew up on his family's place near Farmingdale, SD, wrangling horses, competing in 4-H activities/High School rodeos (bareback, saddle bronc, bull riding), wrestling, FFA, baseball, football, cross-country and track.
Post high school, Colton joined the Army Reserves, attending boot camp at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. His freshman year of college found him at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, MN. He also attended the University of South Dakota, majoring in criminal justice. Completing his freshman year, Colton informed his family he felt a strong call to serve his country and head to the fight in the Middle East. This commitment led him to the Army Intelligence Center at Ft. Huachuca, AZ. Graduating with high honors and a top secret clearance, Colton headed to Ft. Hood, Texas, where he was assigned to the Troopers and the Families of 6th Squadron 9th U.S. Cavalry 3HBCT, as part of America's First Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "We Can, We Will, Sabers Never Quit!"
SGT Derr served as an intelligence SGT in the S2 section of an armed reconnaissance squadron, forward deployed to the Ninewa Province of Iraq. SGT Derr prepared all-source intelligence in support of his commander. His personality based targeting efforts resulted in the neutralization of several suicide vest cells. SGT Derr coached and trained the 11th Brigade Iraqi Army (IA) intelligence section on personality based targeting methods, resulting in the (IA) Iraqi Brigade's first high value target list. Additionally, he trained combat patrols on the functions and capability of the HIIDE system. He developed and led a challenging physical fitness training program for the S2 section. SGT Derr was selected by the squadron's Command Sergeant Major to represent the squadron in the Multi-National Division "Best Warrior Competition", where Colton won the GreyWolf best warrior competition. SGT Derr also served as the troop commander's personal security detachment dismount on over 200 combat missions in the Ninewa Province of Iraq.
Upon return from his service in Iraq, SGT Derr wanted to complete his Middle East service with a tour in Afghanistan. To accomplish this, he had to switch his service unit from Ft. Hood to Ft. Drum, New York, so he could deploy to Afghanistan. At Ft. Drum, he was assigned to A TRP, 3-71 CAV, 3IBCT, 10th MTN Division.
Once deployed to Afghanistan, SGT Derr reveled his new assignment as a scout team leader in a mounted cavalry platoon in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan. Once again, he implemented a battle focused physical fitness routine that prepared his soldiers for their military operations. SGT Derr successfully led his team on over 300 mounted and dismounted combat missions in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan.
Colton returned from his Afghanistan deployment in March of 2012.
Colton's strong family values, his belief in God, and personal will to excel at every goal he set in his life, led him to become a man who was respected and loved by all who knew him. As the first born child, Colton welcomed each of his brothers and sisters. As they grew under his watchful protection, they formed a bond that neither life nor circumstance will ever break.
One of Colton's greatest loves in life was competing in wrestling. With only one season of wrestling experience, Colton won a State AAU Championship and national AAU championship at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. This was followed by many successful wrestling seasons. Colton, a state A Region 4A champion at 171 pounds, went to state finals his junior and senior year - finishing third place both years. This wrestling foundation led to his desire to train in mixed martial arts where he again won many mixed martial arts competitions. His conduct at many sporting events earned him praise and honor by teammates, spectators, friends, and family.
Colton, an old-time cowboy at heart and projection, loved the simple things in life. He valued love, family, friendship, and camaraderie more than self gratification and material things. He understood priorities and traditional values from his upbringing. His penchants for Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Steve Earle, John Wayne, and his Celtic heritage tell you a little bit about his cultural tastes.
Colton's one unfulfilled desire was to share his love with a family of his own. Instead, Colton is sharing his love with our God and family in Heaven.