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Cpl. Damon Mulazzi shows off a tattoo he designed to honor his late mother, Phyliss “Roxie” Mulazzi, who taught him unrestrained generosity. Mulazzi, known as the “Don” on his base in Iraq, uses that generosity to get troops whatever they need.

Cpl. Damon Mulazzi shows off a tattoo he designed to honor his late mother, Phyliss “Roxie” Mulazzi, who taught him unrestrained generosity. Mulazzi, known as the “Don” on his base in Iraq, uses that generosity to get troops whatever they need. (Charlie Coon / S&S)

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq — Damon Mulazzi was lied to, allegedly, by his recruiter.

“I said, ‘tanks,’” Mulazzi said. “He said, ‘Sign right here.’ I wanted to be in tanks since I was a kid.”

Instead, Cpl. Mulazzi ended up in Iraq as a techie — and has become one of the most popular guys at Camp Taqaddum.

He’s the “Cable Guy” who can hook you up, the fast-talking “Don” from New York who can get what you need. Back home in Ronkonkoma, on Long Island, N.Y., the first-generation Italian was the “Musical Marine” who played piano in his dress blues at the Hertlin House home for older folks.

Generosity, he said, is something he learned from his mother.

“Things, I don’t hold onto them,” Mulazzi said. “When you hold onto things, you’re not actually living; you’re just a box. Nobody wants to hang out with a box.”

Mulazzi really is the cable guy. The 22-year-old reservist hooks up all the TVs on the sprawling base to American Forces Network. It’s his job with the 6th Communications Battalion.

But he’s also the one playing piano three times on Sunday at the chapel’s services.

And the one playing piano for wounded troops at the base hospital, bringing them treats to eat, and taking their photos, with permission, to e-mail home to their families.

Mulazzi has decorated the hospital’s walls with artwork by Barbara Bergstrand, a family friend.

“By the time I leave in February, the whole hospital will be like an art wing,” Mulazzi said. “So they have something nice to look at besides white walls.”

On Thursday, Mulazzi was heading over with a bunch of gun posters sent to him by Smith and Wesson. Gun posters, in a hospital? “Hey, Marines like guns,” he said.

Mulazzi likes guns, too. He carries a shotgun on the job as Cable Guy, instead of the standard M-16. Back home in Ronkonkoma, he sells guns at Chester’s Hunting and Fishing.

Mates in his unit simply call him the Don. He brings them candy, muffins, whatever he can get his hands on while making his rounds.

“He’ll bring cartons of cigarettes to the guys,” said Cpl. William Ashburner. “I don’t know where he gets them.”

“He’ll come and ask you what you’d like,” said Cpl. John Harris. “And if he can get his hands on it, he’ll bring it to you.”

As Harris speaks, Mulazzi, grinning ear to ear, is rolling up in a big red firetruck with a couple of the base firefighters, so the Marines can use it to pose for Christmas pictures.

“Every day it’s the same thing,” Ashburner said. “If it was an act, he’d have stopped after about three weeks.”

Instead, Mulazzi keeps going. As “Cable Guy,” he knows everyone from colonels to privates. He’s got connections. On Veterans Day, he handed out an estimated 30 cigars.

Mulazzi said a friend in Ohio, Maureen Nutt, sends several boxes of goodies per week, and her employer foots the postage.

“One of the females in the shop likes cocoa butter — she sends it to us,” he said.

Mulazzi said he was taught to give by his mother, Phyliss “Roxie” Mulazzi, who died in May 2005 from liver cancer at age 51. When he finishes his tour and returns to Long Island, Mulazzi said he’ll return to the gun shop and also continue college.

He knows what he wants to be, sort of.

“I’d like to be a happy-ologist,” Mulazzi said. “I just like making people happy. I don’t think people are happy enough in this world.”


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