NEW FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- A 22-year-old graduate of New Fairfield High School who was serving in the U.S. Air Force died while on active duty in Afghanistan, according to the town's first selectman.
Todd James "TJ" Lobraico, a resident of Sherman, was a 2008 graduate, said Susan Chapman.
Lobraico was a staff sergeant in the Air Force serving as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, according to the U.S. Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations. His remains are expected to arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday.
The Associated Press reported Saturday that the New York Air National Guard said Lobraico was killed Thursday from wounds sustained when his unit near Bagram Airfield was attacked with small arms fire. The decorated airman had deployed to Afghanistan at the end of June. It was his second deployment overseas.
A press release from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Lobraico was killed in action Thursday. Malloy ordered flags in the state to half-staff in the staff sergeant's honor.
"This loss reminds us of the dangers faced by our men and women stationed overseas," said Malloy. "We should all be grateful for their service and sacrifices to our country."
Lobraico was remembered by teachers on Friday as a kind young man who was involved in many charitable causes while at the high school.
"It was this compassion and sense of honor and duty that led him to proudly serve his country," said Lobraico's former social studies teacher Chris Welter. "Our community and our country have lost an amazing young man."
Lobraico's mother, Diane Lobraico, was the New Fairfield tax collector until July, when she resigned, Chapman said.
A candlelight vigil is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Sunday at the town senior center, before the town's 9-11 memorial ceremony.
"He will be remembered for his smile and support of school programs," said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alicia Roy. "We are proud of students who choose to join the military to defend the United States. We are deeply saddened when that commitment costs the ultimate sacrifice. We will always remember and be thankful for TJ's dedication to our country."
In a statement issued Friday evening, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal called Lobraico "courageous and patriotic."
"Staff Sgt. Lobraico's service and sacrifice should be a source of pride and gratitude for all of us," he said. "Our hearts and prayers go to his family and loved ones, as well as to the brave, dedicated men and women who continue to serve our nation in uniform across the globe."