Young Dan Drevnick of Woodbury was marching toward his dream of becoming a state trooper, the same profession in which his father served for many years as a sergeant with the State Patrol.

By the time he was 18, Drevnick knew how to work hard for what he wanted. He even missed his graduation ceremony at Woodbury High School because he was already heading to basic training for the Army National Guard at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

After that, he began studying law enforcement at Century College. But Drevnick put his studies on hold when he was deployed to Iraq in March 2009 with the military police company of the 34th "Red Bull" Infantry Division out of Stillwater.

His dream ended in the explosion of a rocket in Basra in July 2009, a blast that also killed two of his fellow Guardsmen.

Soon his father, Ken Drevnick, and stepmother, Julie Drevnick, of Woodbury, will award the first five scholarships through a memorial fund established in Dan's memory. They're to help veterans, their spouses or their children pursue law enforcement degrees.

The Daniel Drevnick Scholarships, each totaling $1,000, will be awarded every six months. Veterans and their families are eligible if the veteran has served since Sept. 11, 2001.

The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization for the fund is named "Hero At Home," and Ken Drevnick explained why: "Our veterans are our heroes. Our police officers are our civilian heroes. And the general public can also be heroes by wanting to help donate."

Dan Drevnick had been deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom for only four months when he and two of his Minnesota National Guard comrades died. Drevnick was 22, James D. Wertish of Olivia was 20 and Carlos E. Wilcox IV of Cottage Grove was 27.

They had been preparing to start their shifts on base. Drevnick was to patrol the perimeter on foot, his father said. The rocket struck before they had donned their protective gear.

To this day, the Drevnicks and the other families still get together with the Red Bulls out of Stillwater for social events, including taking members fishing, Ken Drevnick said.

The scholarship program is important, he said, because veterans coming home these days face a high unemployment rate.

Support has been strong so far for the memorial scholarship, and the Drevnicks hope to raise enough to give more in future awards, the father said.

A private ceremony will be held to present the first five scholarships on March 31 at Prestwick Golf Club, with Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens as emcee.

The first winners are: Sean M. Callahan, 24, of North Mankato; Ambjor Anderson, 26, of Waterville; Skyler Weislogel, 26, of Minneapolis; Anthony Zerwas, 23, of Oakdale, and Michael Pevear, 39, of Rosemount.

Callahan and Pevear were in the Army National Guard; Zerwas was in the Air National Guard; Weislogel, Army Reserve, and Anderson, the Army.

Joy Powell • 651-925-5038