BRONX, NY, USA U.S. Marines LCPL, 3D BN, 8TH MAR, (GCE, SPMAGTF-AFGHANISTAN), 2D MAR DIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC NOW ZAD, AFGHANISTAN 01/01/2009
Lance Corporal Alberto Francesconi, USMC became the first 2009 U.S. casualty in Afghanistan when a land mine ended his young life. Alberto tops that heartbreaking list. Those that knew and loved him, however, will not remember him for that distinction.
Home was an apartment building in a Bronx neighborhood near Webster Park. He graduated from high school in 2005 and became a personal banker with Bank of America. In December 2006, Alberto married his teenage sweetheart, Cynthia. “He always wanted to strive a little bit more – to make it easier for his family.” They hoped to start their own family when Alberto returned from his tour. He used to say, “What better foundation than the military,” his wife recalled.
Despite an 18-year age difference, Alberto was very close to his older brother, Robert Rivera. A Navy reservist, Robert recalls a patriotic and fiercely loyal younger brother. “He was an inspiration,” who was always “. . . one for enjoying life to the fullest.” Alberto desperately sought to follow his older sibling. The two had wanted to serve together.
Alberto, a scout sniper, was a treasured member of his unit, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force. He had previously survived a combat tour in Iraq. Southern Helmand Province in Afghanistan, however, had become increasingly dangerous. The intensity of ground operations were not lost on Alberto. Shortly before deploying, he told his wife Cynthia, “Just in case I don’t come home, I want to be buried with my grandmother.”
On Friday, 9 January 2009, family and friends gathered at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church to say goodbye to Lance Corporal Alberto Francesconi. Rene Martinez, a Navy medic, served with Francesconi. He sang “Ave Maria” and “Amazing Grace” in honor of his fallen comrade. “He will be missed,” said Marine Cpl. Alfonso Matos, who served in the same battalion with Alberto in Iraq. “He was motivated, dedicated. He loved what he did. He was a good kid.”
Later they laid Alberto in his final resting place at St. Raymond’s Cemetery in the Bronx. Alberto’s grandmother is close by – keeping a watchful eye. Marine, your mission is now complete. You can stand down and rest in peace.