Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier dies after car crash in Virginia
Update: A misdemeanor reckless driving charge against the driver was dismissed Feb. 25, 2021.
A young soldier home on leave died in a single-car crash this week in Virginia, the military said.
Pfc. Patrick Giannone, 19, from Spotsylvania, Va., was an information technology specialist assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He was killed late Monday night on a rural road south of Fredericksburg, Va.
“Patrick arrived to 1SFG (A) last year and was known across his section, company and battalion for his relentless work ethic and dedication to his profession and his team,” Col. Owen G. Ray, the group’s commander, said Wednesday in a statement.
Giannone was the passenger in a car when the driver lost control and drove off the road, hitting a tree, the Virginia State Police told local news outlets.
The driver of the 2013 Volkswagen GTI, 20-year-old Ricardo Duron, suffered minor injuries and was taken to a local hospital. Giannone died at the scene, police said.
Both men were wearing seat belts, police said. The crash is under investigation and charges against Duron were pending, police told news site Fredericksburg.com.
“We are heartbroken,” the soldier’s mother, Jeanine Arenella Giannone, wrote on Facebook, featuring a picture of her son in uniform.
A memorial page set up in his honor on the social media site included videos of members of a local car club he belonged to pulling Volkswagen badges from old cars and taking them to the crash site, where photos show they left them as a makeshift memorial.
A video recorded by soldiers in his unit showed them paying tribute — including one soldier who acknowledged teasing him for being a “dirty leg” — Army slang for a non-airborne soldier — but said he was proud when Giannone earned his jump wings.
The video was posted by Giovanni Ogo, who said in a comment to the dead soldier’s older sister that he was put in charge of Giannone when he arrived at 1st SFG, and that the incoming soldier became like a little brother to him.
“One of the most motivated dudes I knew first coming in,” Ogo says in the video. He was “always asking, ‘What can I do? What can I learn?’”
Another soldier in the video recalled that their last time spent together was defending a building during an exercise where they played the opposing force against a Special Forces team.
At Lewis-McChord, ministry teams and counselors were prepared to assist 1st Group members, Ray said.
“It is never easy to accept the loss of one of our own and we support our 1SFG Team and Family,” he said. “I ask that you keep his family in your thoughts and prayers and respect their privacy during this time of mourning.”
Giannone’s friends back home plan to complete a car project in his honor, one of them said online.
“We will finish a TDI exactly how you wanted it,” said Facebook user Jordan Rose. “Rest Easy Patty. You will be greatly missed, incredibly honored and always remembered.”