SALEM, NH, USA U.S. Army CPL, COMPANY C, 1ST BATTALION, 505TH INFANTRY, FORT BRAGG, NC BAYJI, IRAQ 10/06/2006
22 year-old CPL Nicholas Arvanitis of Salem, N.H.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Oct. 6, 2006 from injuries sustained when he encountered enemy fire in Bayji, Iraq.
Cpl. Arvanitis was a Salem High School graduate who played baseball, soccer and was a member of the championship wrestling team and was a guitarist and formed his own band with a group of friends. He passed up a scholarship to Berklee College of Music to join the military.
Nicholas turned 22 while on a night mission in Iraq. As hours of his birthday dwindled away, he and his unit faced a large firefight. With only half an hour left of the day, one of his fellow soldiers mashed together three fudge cookies and presented the small mount to Arvanitis. He took one bite and then passed around the makeshift cake to share with his team. That, said a fellow soldier in an e-mail to Arvanitis’ family, is just the kind of guy he was. The next day, he was killed by enemy fire while on a mission near Bayji, a city between Baghdad and Mosul in Northern Iraq.
He grew up in Salem, N.H. As a child he played Pop Warner football, Little League and soccer, but his passion was music. In high school he was in a heavy metal band that played at the Sad Café in Plaistow and he wanted to pursue a career in music after his time in the Army. A heavy metal enthusiast, Arvanitis loved to cover Pantera songs. Another soldier e-mailed Arvanitis’ family to share a story. One night, just before their unit shipped out in August, a large group of soldiers went to a club. There was a live band playing and Arvanitis jumped onto stage, grabbed a guitar and began to play. He was playing so hard he dropped his pick, but he kept rocking.
He joined the Army before he turned 18 and had to have his mother sign forms to allow him to join. Both of his grandfathers served in the Navy, one in World War II. He knew what each tassel and ribbon on his uniform symbolized and was proud of the history of his unit.