Michael Kevin Oremus (Koonitz, Mikey O., Slim – endearing names given to Michael during his short life) was born on October 21, 1984 at Vassar Brothers Hospital, Poughkeepsie,New York.
He was a surprise bonus and beloved son of Bruce and Madeline Oremus; and the little brother of Eric and Richard Oremus. His brothers took advantage of their younger brother as a lot of older siblings do, but at the same time, showered him with love and affection. He loved making his brothers happy by doing just about anything they asked him. Michael had a natural talent for wanting to help others and doing what needed to be done.
Michael was a beautiful little boy with big blue eyes, platinum blonde hair and always had an infectious smile on his face that lit up any room he was in. You could always find Michael doing something athletic as a young tyke; playing hoops or kicking a soccer ball in his parent’s den, sometimes too enthusiastically, sometimes causing holes and dents in the walls.
Michael loved soccer at a very early age due to the example set by his brothers, who were both excellent soccer players. You could find Michael at every Varsity and Collegiate soccer field dribbling the soccer ball up and down the sidelines, while watching his brothers play. His brothers’ friends became Michael’s “other big brothers”. They were always watching out for Michael, especially after Michael’s father Bruce died from cancer. Michael was only ten years old at the time of his dad’s death. He had spent a lot of time with his father at the soccer field, “assisting” his dad who was a coach.
Michael participated in Town of Highland recreation programs including basketball, Little League, and soccer. His passion for soccer was at the forefront. He played on various travel soccer teams as well as the Highland High School Varsity team from his freshman year through his senior year, becoming captain of the team during his senior year. He was also a member of the Highland Varsity tennis team. Michael loved the camaraderie you feel being part of something. He was very much a team player.
Michael was not a big guy, smaller than his older brothers, slim in stature, but always gave his all – one-hundred percent to help whatever team he was on.
He graduated from Highland High School in June of 2002. After graduation he attended DutchessCommunity College and was a member of their soccer team. He joined the Army in February of 2005. After basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, he was stationed at Camp Walker, South Korea with the 188th Military Police Company. During his tour inKorea, Michael was recognized by his superiors for performing his duties exceptionally and was selected by the commander to join the Special Reaction Team, a position normally designated for a higher ranking soldier. After that assignment, Michael volunteered for assignment with the 57th MP Company, which he knew would soon be deployed to Iraq. While in Iraq he was stationed atCamp Liberty, Baghdad. Michael and his unit provided security, training, and participated in patrols and operations with the Iraqi police.
On Monday, October 2, 2006, Michael’s squad departed Camp Liberty to conduct combat patrolling in the Platoon’s sector in Western Baghdad. While on patrol, Michael’s squad located an Improvised Explosive Device (IEP) near a major intersection in downtown Baghdad. Michael’s squad immediately secured the intersection and coordinated with Explosive Ordinance Specialists to clear the area. After the area was secured and cleared, he was returning to his vehicle when he was struck by a single round by an enemy sniper which killed him instantly. In his last moments he was with his fellow soldiers and displayed exemplary courage and strength as stated by his company commander. There is no telling how many lives were saved this day through the keen observations and subsequent action of Michael and his squad. The news devastated the Town of Highland where Michael grew up and where two other young men from this small town lost their lives in Iraq.
Cpl. Michael Oremus was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and Combat Action Badge.
Michael will always be remembered for his devotion to family, love of children, and dedication to helping others. He proudly served his community and wanted to do more by joining the service. He passionately believed in what he was doing and believed he could make a difference serving his country as part of the military.
The idea of the Michael Oremus Foundation came about from family and friends who gave generously to start a scholarship fund at Highland High School in Michael’s memory. It became apparent to the family that the funds that were contributed and raised were a substantial amount – more than what was needed to fund just a scholarship. Michael’s memory will be kept alive not only by awarding a scholarship but also by funding opportunities for families and their children who are in need of financial assistance to participate in community recreational activities
“Welcome to the Gun Show!” – Mikey O
Mikey and his proud brothers, Eric and Rich after Basic