Baumholder-based officer killed by former Iraqi official
Stars and Stripes June 27, 2007
A civil affairs officer with the Baumholder, Germany-based 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment was one of two Americans killed Monday after attending a meeting with Iraqis south of Baghdad, the Pentagon said late Wednesday.
Capt. Gregory T. Dalessio, 30, of Cherry Hill, N.J., died in Baghdad of wounds from small-arms fire suffered earlier that day in Salman Pak, officials said.
Another soldier was killed and several others were wounded in the attack. The attack was blamed on a former Iraqi council member, who was shot dead during the exchange of fire.
Dalessio is the first soldier from Baumholder to die in action during the 2nd Brigade’s current deployment. He served as a civil military affairs officer with Task Force 2-6 and was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, said Lt. Col. Robert Rigsby, the 2nd Brigade rear detachment commander.
A memorial ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Baumholder.
Kathy Ledbetter, whose husband is a soldier, befriended Dalessio during their three years as neighbors in Birkenfeld.
From her accounts, she was a second mother to Dalessio while he lived in Germany. She first saw Dalessio mowing his yard on a Sunday, which is frowned upon in Germany. She knew from the start that Dalessio would be in need of some adult supervision, she said. She would look out her window to see what time Dalessio got home on the weekends.
Ledbetter, who works as an Army civilian, was on temporary duty in the States when informed of Dalessio’s passing. She flew back to Germany because she said she wouldn’t miss his memorial service for the world.
"I guess I won’t have to look out the window anymore and wonder what time he’ll come home," said a tearful Ledbetter. "But I’m proud I had a chance to know him."
Dalessio was on his second tour in Iraq and had been there for about two months when he was killed.
He was the oldest of eight children, family members told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Dalessio joined the Army because "he admired the values that the military brings, such as honor, truth and integrity," his stepfather, Thomas Pagano, was quoted as saying in the paper.
"He lived a full 30 years," Pagano added. "He brought inspiration to everyone."
Dalessio attended Seton Hall University, was a member of the ROTC program and earned a master’s degree in diplomacy and international relations, according to the paper.