Sgt. Michael E. Ristau, 25, of Rockford, Ill., died July 13 in Qalat, Zabul province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when his vehicle was attacked with an enemy improvised explosive device.
He was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Ristau joined the Army in July 2004 and attended Initial Army Training and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Benning, GA. He had been at Lewis-McChord since he completed that training and deployed to Afghanistan with his brigade in December 2011.
This was Ristau's second deployment, having served in Iraq from June 2006 to August 2007.
Ristau's family released the following statement,
"Sergeant Michael Ristau, husband, father, son, brother, died serving the country that he loved. He will live on forever in our memories. Though his time on earth was short, his impact was huge. We have lost our Michael, but we are still so proud of him and his choice to serve our nation. He had a tremendous love for life and was passionate about bull riding. He leaves behind a wife, two sons and many family and friends. We want to thank all of our friends, family, community and the nation for their prayers and support during this time of great loss.”Sgt. Ristau had just been married in June of 2011 and was a father to a newborn baby.
During his career he earned several awards including the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star and Iraq Campaign Medal with campaign star.
Ristau is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, one child and a large family.