ST GEORGE’S ISLAND, FL, USA U.S. Army LTC, 19TH MAINTENANCE BATTALION, FORT SILL, OK 73503 SAFWAN, IRAQ 05/19/2003
Lieutenant Colonel Dominic Rocco Baragona was killed in Iraq on May 19, 2003. “Rocky” as he was called was the Commander of the 19th Maintenance Battalion from Fort Sill, Oklahoma and was bringing his men home from Iraq at the time. He never made it.
He had risen in the ranks from Lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel after graduating from West Point Military Academy in 1984. While at the Academy, he was known to the other Cadets in his company as “the star man who wasn’t”. They called him that because he could do well without studying but he just wanted to be one of the guys and was always willing to give his time and talents to anyone who needed help in Science or Math.
As he proceeded through the years in the Army he received accolades from many of his superior officers and excellent recommendations along the way. When he was killed, his Colonel and General both called him the greatest logistician they had known.
Rocky was born the middle child of seven Baragonas and the middle of five boys. He was always one of the serious ones and a very private person, but he also had a great sense of humor and could pull fun tricks with the rest of his brothers and sisters. As a young boy he showed potential for science and math early on. He would get up at three a.m. to look at the stars with his telescope in the winter because, as he said, you could see them better then. In math class he would find easier ways to do problems; but still come up with the correct answers and his teacher accepted that.
In Catholic high school he participated in many things – sports, music, chess, and other social things. He received an NSF scholarship as a sophomore to Hiram College in Ohio to learn about the “new” thing, computers and then came back to school and began teaching an early morning computer class. He did this because the nuns at the school did not know anything about computers at that time.
As a junior, he received another NSF scholarship to attend the University of Chicago to learn number theory. This time, he was one of only 35 students from all over the world. In preparing for college, he was advanced placed in two math classes. West Point recruited him to attend the academy when they received the results from his PSAT scores. When Rocky graduated and became a full time Army person, he now had two families; his Army family and his Baragona family. Being a private person, they remained separate families for the rest of his life. He didn’t tell us much about the Army and he didn’t tell them much about us. We learned many things about his Army life after he was gone.
As a Baragona family member, Rocky was the core, the heart and soul of the family. He was the one who got us all together after we all began living in different parts of the country. He loved Christmas and always tried to be home as many times as it was possible to do so. Family events always seemed to be better when Rocky was around. In 1974 we lost Rocky’s younger brother, Christopher to leukemia and that was devastating to all of us. We will never forget him but were beginning to heal over time. In 2003, we then lost Rocky too and it was even more terrible. We always called him “the Rock” and that is what he was to all of us in the family in different ways. Life is not the same for any of us without him. He was a major part of us and always kept the family connected. It seems that there is a hole in our hearts that will never again be filled.