Army Staff Sgt. Thomas E. Vitagliano
Killed in Action, January 17, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom.
33, of New Haven, Conn.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Casey, Korea; killed Jan. 17 when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his position in Ramadi, Iraq. Also killed was Army Pfc. George R. Geer.
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New Haven soldier killed in Iraq
HARTFORD, Conn. — A 33-year-old soldier from New Haven has been killed in Iraq, the Defense Department announced Wednesday.
Staff Sgt. Thomas E. Vitagliano died Monday in Ramadi, Iraq, when a bomb in a vehicle detonated near his position, the Defense Department said. Also killed was Pfc. George Geer, 27 of Cortez, Colo. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, based out of Camp Casey, South Korea.
Vitagliano, who grew up in Orange and West Haven, was the 23rd person with Connecticut ties killed in Iraq or Afghanistan since March 2002, and the first this year.
John Hoffman, deacon at Holy Infant Church in Orange where Vitagliano’s family worships, said Vitagliano enlisted in the military at age 17.
“It’s about as young as you get,” he said. “No one loved the military life more than him. As a little kid he loved the military. It was a perfect home for him.”
Hoffman, who is a family spokesman, described Vitagliano as “a great guy, fun-loving. Everybody’s best friend if you knew him for 10 minutes.”
The family issued a statement through Hoffman.
“Tommy’s life revolved around family — his family here at home, and his military family with which he served and shared the bonds of family,” they said. “His family asks for your prayers for themselves, and for all families who have lost loved ones in the service of their country.”
They added: “And pray for peace.”
Vitagliano’s body may be returned home to Connecticut as early as next week after being taken to a facility in Dover, Del. The family is waiting for his remains to arrive before they plan services.
Stars and Stripes, which covers the military, ran a story on Tuesday that described what Vitagliano’s unit has been doing for the past four months in Ramadi. The report said the unit has been working on civil projects, handing out food and trying to avoid suicide bombers.
The soldiers have suffered frequent attacks from insurgents in the city of 400,000, which is in the volatile region sometimes called the Sunni Triangle. At least 10 soldiers in Vitagliano’s battalion have been killed in Ramadi since November.
Vitagliano went to Notre Dame High School in West Haven until his sophomore year, then transferred to a military school. He went on to join the Marines.
Anthony DiBiase, commanding officer of the U.S. Marine Cadets Company A, 1st Battalion, said Vitagliano was one of his cadets and moved up the ranks to sergeant in June 1990. He fought in the first Iraq war, Desert Storm, in 1991, as part of the 25th Marine’s Charlie Company.
He later left the Marines, worked briefly for American Express and returned to teach Marine cadets for a year. He then joined the Army.
Family members told WTNH-TV that Vitagliano planned to work for his father’s real estate business in New Haven after the Army. His father also served in the military.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell ordered state flags to be lowered to half-staff until sundown on the day of Vitagliano’s funeral, which has not yet been set.
“Staff Sgt. Vitagliano served America with valor and courage,” Rell said in a statement. “On behalf of the people of Connecticut, I extend my deepest sympathies to his family and friends. Staff Sgt. Vitagliano made the ultimate sacrifice to protect and preserve our freedom.”
Vitagliano was not married and did not have children.
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(Article from https://thefallen.militarytimes.com/army-staff-sgt-thomas-e-vitagliano/608765)
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