By Allan Lengel
In November 1993, St. Louis Police officer Stephen Strehl, 35, was killed in a helicopter crash during a training operation in Jefferson County with the DEA. He was a passenger and a member of the DEA task force.
On Dec. 13, Strehl’s son Joseph Strehl graduated from the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy at the Maritz Center in Fenton, Missouri, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He was two at the time of his father’s death.
In the audience was his mother and almost two dozen DEA agents, known as Group 32. Some of the agents knew the elder Strehl and others “only knew the stories of Steve Strehl,” DEA analyst Tony Wagner, who once supervised Strehl as the lieutenant of the city’s narcotics division, tells the newspaper.
Part of the story is also that the DEA Survivors Benefit Fund ended up helping Joseph Strehl pay for his education after his father’s passing.
In 2014, Joseph wrote:
My dad was a police officer for the city of St. Louis when he was killed in the line of duty while attached to a DEA task force back in 1993. His death happened 6 days before my third birthday and having grown up without a father early on in my life was especially hard on me seeing friends spending time with their dads and having them come to school events like field trips and sporting events. It wasn’t until 9 years later when my mom remarried and my brothers had a father figure in our lives.
When it came time to start applying for colleges in high school, I began to wonder how I would pay for my education like most of my friends. I had asked my parents what I had to do so I could attend a university in the state when my mom told me that I wouldn’t deal with financial aid. She then showed me the DEA’s Survivors Benefit Fund and what the organization does along with explaining to me that my education was covered due to the fact that my dad had been a task force officer.
I am very grateful to the Survivor’s Benefit Fund for making it possible for me, as a student, not to have to worry about how I will pay for my education. With my tuition and book costs covered by the SBF, I can concentrate solely on my classes and earning good grades along with not having to worry about loans or other debt when I graduate from college.
I miss my dad every day and I know that there isn’t anything in the world that can bring him back but with the Survivor’s Benefit Fund we can always remember that there are good people willing to help out families like mine when they lose a loved one. As a junior attending Missouri State University studying Criminology hoping to someday make it to grad school, I wanted to thank everyone at the SBF and supporters for giving me the opportunity to advance my education and future endeavors.