Dumont, NJ, USA
ET3, USS Stark
05/17/1987, Persian Gulf
Families fearing for their sailor sons in the Persian Gulf waited yesterday for the all-important telephone call or visit – suffocated by fright, paralyzed by a lack of information from a world away.
In Dumont, N.J., the family of Christopher Werner DeAngelis, 23, electronics technician second class, received that visit Monday. The two Navy officials who came to the DeAngelis home had few details. But they knew the one fact: Christopher DeAngelis was dead. And so far from home.
DeAngelis was one of six sailors from Pennsylvania and New Jersey known to have died Sunday aboard the USS Stark when the frigate came under Iraqi missile attack.
In addition to DeAngelis, the attack also killed Thomas Joseph MacMullen, 30, of Darby; John Anthony Ciletta Jr., 21, of Brigantine, N.J.; Daniel Homicki, 36, of Elizabeth, N.J.; James Scott Dunlap, 20, of Osceola Mills, Pa., and Wayne Richard Weaver, 22, of New Bethlehem, Pa.
Shattered by the news, wearied by telephone calls from the media, Christopher DeAngelis’ parents prepared yesterday to join their son’s wife in Mayport, Fla., the home port of the Stark. His sister, Virginia Jenkins, 25, minded the telephone in their home near New York City.
“He’s a fun-loving guy,” she responded, when first asked about her younger brother. She paused and then shifted to the past tense. “He was very easygoing, very witty. No matter what the situation was, he always brought a bright light into it.
“He had a tendency to make everything seem better, no matter how bad it was.”
Christopher, his sister said, set out in February for what he expected to be his last sea tour. He had been married on New Year’s Day, and as a newlywed, he didn’t want to leave his wife. DeAngelis was due home in August. And if he had his way, he would stay ashore and attend school in San Diego to become a Navy electronics instructor, his sister said. He had recently re-enlisted to get that chance.
“The whole family is very proud of him,” Jenkins said. “It’s a terrible loss. We’d just like to know why it happened. Why didn’t they defend themselves? If they’d tried, this all could have been avoided.
“We’d really like to know why.”
Last month marked the 23rd anniversary of the Iraqi missile attack on the USS Stark in the Persian Gulf.
One of the 37 Navy crewmen killed that day was Electronics Technician Second Class Christopher W. DeAneglis of Dumont, He was 23 years old. And this year, somehow fittingly on May 23, a Dumont borough park named after him took on some new life.
Christopher W. DeAngelis Park at Summit and Lenox avenues in the northeast corner of Dumont was rededicated in the aftermath of an Eagle Scout project led by James Parrish of Boy Scout Troop 64 in Dumont. Christopher DeAngelis had belonged to the Scouting organization, and Parrish had chosen to honor the late sailor by working on the park.
Parrish had approached the Dumont Recreation Commission with proposed improvements, including a new sign, a flagpole with solar lighting and a new garden area at the northwest corner of the small park. A proclamation from the mayor and council to DeAngelis’ parents was given by Councilwoman Ellen Zamechansky.
The proclamation recognized DeAngelis’ service to his country and the Eagle Scout project of James Parrish, concluding with:
“Now, therefore, be it resolved, that I, Matthew P. McHale, Mayor of Dumont, do proudly rededicate this park on May 23, 2010, in honor of Christopher DeAngelis.”
In her remarks, Recreation Director Dawn Totten said, “Today this park is being rededicated thanks to James Parrish…In doing this project, James has given many of us an opportunity to connect with Christopher DeAngelis and his wonderful family and to honor and celebrate his memory at a milestone year.” “Christopher was only 23 years old at the time of this attack [on the USS Stark],” she said. “It’s fitting that his parents had chosen today, the 23rd day of May, as the date of this rededication.”
DeAngelis had attended Grant and Honiss schools, graduating from Dumont High School in 1982. He enlisted in the Navy in September that year. He was a husband, son, brother, uncle and friend to many in Dumont.
The park was originally dedicated to him in Oct 18, 1987.