PLYMOUTH, MA, USA
CPT, HHC, 1ST BATTALION, 18TH INFANTRY, SCHWEINFURT, GM
BAGHDAD, IRAQ 04/06/2007
Anthony Palermo had dreamed of becoming a soldier since he was 7. He was a mischievous child who was drawn to the discipline of the military.
He always knew what he was going to be. I remember when we were kids. He was always playing student, a mastermind. He was a born G.I., said his stepfather, Johnny Melendez.
Palermo, 26, of Brockton, Mass., was killed April 6 by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. He was a 1998 high school graduate and was assigned to Schweinfurt, Germany. He was on his second tour.
Palermo was a cadet at Norwich University in Vermont, attending the school between September 1998 and February 2002 and was a member of the university’s Mountain Cold Weather Rescue program. He later graduated from Bridgewater State College in 2003 with a degree in criminal justice
He and his wife, Kristin, were awaiting the birth of the couple’s first child. They had already decided on a name – Marcus Anthony.
Palermo, a devoted Red Sox fan, wanted a party for his funeral, said Meredith Griffin, a cousin. He wanted lots of flowers, and he wanted us to all go and speak about his life, about the different memories we have of him, and play all his CDs.
Palermo, a Brockton native, had a two-week leave and was planning to join his wife, Kristy Pine , also an Army captain, in Germany for the delivery of their first child. But Palermo and two of his soldiers were killed when their Humvee drove over an improvised explosive device April 6.
“When you look at that boy, he’s like Tony born again,” said Angel Ortiz, the uncle, moments after the hourlong memorial service ended. “Anthony, he was special. He was everything a father could ask for,” he said, tears welling in his eyes.
A gold-colored box on a table at the front of the church contained Palermo’s ashes. On both sides of the table stood large photographs of the soldier. In one, he wore his dress uniform and bore no expression. In the other, he wore camouflage fatigues and smiled broadly. About a dozen bouquets of flowers were placed on the floor around the pictures and the table.
“That picture, that says it all because the smile is pure Tony,” said Robert Tripp, director of the Army JROTC program at Brockton High School, which Palermo attended. “Tony was in the program since he was a freshman. I really saw him develop into a leader. By the time he was a senior, there was no question where he was going,” he said, referring to Palermo’s long-held dream of entering the Army.
Palermo was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Iraq Campaign Medal, and the Army Service Ribbon.
Ortiz, who is a sergeant in the Army himself, placed the box containing his nephew’s ashes into a larger wooden box, and then placed Palermo’s black beret on top of the box. He then handed the box to Palermo’s brother-in law Jeff Boots, also in uniform, and the two marched in unison out the front door, where two other soldiers snapped to attention and saluted under drizzly skies.
Palermo’s ashes will be scattered in Maine, in an area he and his wife once enjoyed visiting, family members said.