PLANT CITY, FL, US
PFC, CO G, 3RD SQUADRON, 2ND STRYKER CAVALRY REGIMENT, VILSECK, GERMANY
06/26/2010, AKHTAR-MOHMMAD-KHAR, AFGHANISTAN
The Army was in Paul Orazio Cuzzupe II’s blood. His mother and father both wore the uniform. PFC Cuzzupe was born at Fort Riley, Kansas.
He knew he would follow in their footsteps someday, said his grandfather, David Allard.
Following graduation in 2005 from Armwood High School in Seffner, Cuzuppe enlisted. He trained and became an Army combat medic. He was deployed to Afghanistan in July.
“He wanted to help people,” said Allard.
PFC. Cuzzupe’s mother, Annette Kirk, and grandmother, Judy Allard, traveled to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, to escort his body home.
Cuzzupe’s death came just a week after he was honored with the Army Commendation Medal for his efforts to save an Afghani child’s life. The young child had lost both legs and an arm, and Cuzzupe did everything he could for the child but was unsuccessful, said his friend Jared Wilbur. His commanders said Cuzuppe had gone above and beyond the call of duty. “But that was just who he was.”
Growing up in Seffner, Cuzzupe, the oldest of four kids, was known by friends as someone to turn to for advice.”If someone was going to make a bad decision, he was always the voice of reason,” said his friend and former band mate Robert Wisniewski.
Paul was also the one who knew music. “When it came to a lot of things, he was a perfectionist, but especially his music,” explained Wisniewski.
Cuzzupe learned to play guitar and formed a rock band with some friends. They called themselves The Seed. He would talk music theory, write out the notes and make sure the sound was just right, added Wisniewski.
After high school, Cuzzupe attended Saint Leo University, missing graduation by just one semester. He had wanted to become a high school history teacher, but his passion for the Army led him away from that path.
PFC Cuzuppe felt that service in the Army was a family tradition.”It was always something that made him proud,” said Wisniewski.
Several weeks after he was deployed, Cuzzupe told friends on Facebook how much he missed them.
“I want everyone back home to know that I am sorry if I have not been getting back to everyone in a timely fashion,” he wrote. “I am in a very dangerous and bad place right now. I only have so much time, and a lot of people to talk to. I love and miss you all. When things calm down I will be contacting everyone that I am able to.”
Then, about two weeks ago, Cuzzupe called his grandparents at 4 A.M. “He said he was worried and concerned because of the conditions over there,” Allard said, “but he knew he had a job to do.”