Sunday, April 08, 2007

Anthony Palermo Jr. reported killed in Iraq

A Brockton man “born to be a soldier” died while on duty in Iraq two weeks before the expected birth of his first child.

Army Capt. Anthony Palermo Jr., 26, was expected to take an R&R leave and travel to Germany where his wife, Capt. Kristy Pine, stationed in Wurzburg, is waiting to deliver their firstborn.

“It’s a boy and he wanted a boy,” said Palermo’s cousin, 22-year-old Vianka Feliciano of Raynham. “We are a big military family, with several cousins and uncles in the military,” she said. “His father was in the Navy and Anthony was born on a Navy base in Puerto Rico. Ever since he was a little boy he wanted to be in the military.”

Palermo died Friday when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee, according to reports from The Associated Press.

A member of the ROTC program, Palermo graduated from Brockton High School in 1998. He enrolled as a four-year cadet at Norwich University in Vermont, where he met Pine, whom he married in 2002. Palermo graduated in 2003 from Bridgewater State, where he studied criminal justice.

“Anthony was a genuinely beautiful soul,” said cousin Meredith Griffin, 29, also of Raynham. “He was everybody’s favorite. Even though he always had a strict and militant attitude, he was fair and unselfish, putting everyone’s needs first before his own,” she said.

He was also known for staying in tip-top shape. “He always showed off his stomach,” said Feliciano.

Palermo was the eldest of his siblings; he has a 24-year-old sister, Lisanette Palermo, and a 15-year-old brother, Johnny Melendez Jr., who despite his brother’s death still “dreams of being in the army,” said Griffin.

“He was proud of his physique and strong-driven, but still a loving person all-around,” said Feliciano.

Palermo’s mother, Maria Melendez of Brockton, while distraught over her loss, is “being strong because she knows her son is in a better place,” said Feliciano, who spoke as a representative for the family. “He wanted her to be strong for the family and that would’ve made him proud.”

Even as they mourn the death of their son, Palermo’s family members are eagerly anticipating the arrival of a grandson. They said Pine sent ultrasounds of the baby to her husband in Iraq. “Kristy’s not doing so well, but we’re supporting her in every way,” said Feliciano. “We can’t wait for her to come back home and be with us.”

From the Herald