Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Jason M Lantieri

Killingworth, Connecticut

October 10, 2007

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
25 Army Sgt

725th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division

Fort Richardson, Alaska

Died Oct. 10 in Iskandaryah, Iraq, of injuries suffered during a vehicle accident Oct. 9. 

Published in The Hartford Courant on October 14, 2007

LANTIERI, Jason Jason Lantieri, a young man from Connecticut and an Army sergeant, died in Baghdad, Iraq on Wednesday (October 10, 2007) in an accident. He was 25. Jason was born in Waterbury on July 24, 1982. He spent his early childhood in Naugatuck, and then moved to Killingworth, where he graduated from Haddam-Killingworth high school and played basketball, soccer, and baseball. 

He went on to earn a bachelor's degree at Western New England College in Springfield. Jason enlisted in the Army in 2005, and he was sent to Iraq in 2006. He was promoted to sergeant while in Iraq, and Jason was due to come home in December 2007. Jason's vivid spirit and mischievous nature left their mark. 

Here's one story told by Jason's best friend, Steve Haeckel. One day, playing golf with friends, Jason belly-flopped into a pond on the fairway of the eighteenth hole as a thunderstorm approached. "We're going to get wet anyway," Jason said. There was almost nothing Jason wouldn't try, and there was no dare Jason wouldn't take. Jason's contagious smile and his permanent optimism pulled him out of plenty of scrapes. Throughout his short life, Jason always dreamed big and lived life to the fullest. Jason was an avid fan of many sports, but waffle ball had a special place in his heart. 

His waffle ball bats, customized with electrical tape and all sorts of geegaws, were a perfect example of Jason's tinkering. He always had a good idea how to make things better, faster, and stronger. Jason is survived by a large family; his parents, Jon and Kathy Miller; and his brother and sisters, David Miller, Sarah Greenaway, and Rachel and Amy Durette. He was "Uncle Jay" to seven nieces and nephews. He also leaves behind several aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandmothers. Jason's mother, Karen Lantieri, died several years ago. 

Jason's many friends around the world are devastated by the loss. The family will receive friends from 5-9 p.m., Wednesday, October 17, at the field house of the Haddam-Killingworth High School, 95 Little City Road, Higganum. Services will be 2 p.m., Thursday, October 18 at the High School with burial to follow in Evergreen Cemetery in Killingworth with full Military Honors. In lieu of Flowers memorial contributions may be made payable to the Jason Lantieri Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o Steve Haeckel, 134 Salem Drive, Cromwell, CT 06416. Swan Funeral Home Clinton is in charge of arrangements.

Soldier from Killingworth dies in accident in Iraq

By Dave Collins
The Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. — An Army paratrooper who grew up in Killingworth died in Iraq when he was accidentally pinned between two vehicles this week, his family said Oct. 11.

Sgt. Jason Lantieri, 25, joined the Army two years ago and was due home in December for a break, said his mother, Kathleen Miller of Clinton. She said a military official came to her home Oct. 10 morning to tell her that her son died Oct. 9 in an accident.

“We don’t have all the details,” Miller said in a phone interview. “Our family is devastated. He was a pretty special person, full of fun, full of life. He went into the service looking for an adventure.”

Military officials said that Lantieri was injured during late-night vehicle maneuvers near Iskandaryah, which is about 30 miles south of Baghdad. The incident is under investigation.

He was assigned to Echo Company, 725th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based in Fort Richardson, Alaska.

Lantieri was supposed to come home over the summer, but his unit’s deployment was extended, Miller said.

Lantieri graduated from Haddam-Killingworth High School in 2000 and earned a business degree from Western New England College in Springfield, Mass. He was serving with the Army’s 25th Infantry Division in Baghdad, state officials said.

Miller said her son’s body will be returned to the U.S. in five to seven days. She said the family tentatively plans a memorial service at Haddam-Killingworth High School. A date has not been set.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell ordered Connecticut and U.S. flags flown at half-staff until Lantieri is buried.

“I ask that we unite as a state to honor the sacrifice that Sgt. Lantieri has made on our behalf,” Rell said in a statement.

Haddam-Killingworth High School Principal Charlie Macunas, who was also Lantieri’s middle school social studies teacher, said he held a solid “B” average while playing on the high school’s soccer, basketball and baseball teams.

“He worked hard academically, but you could always tell it was hard for him to sit still. He was a bundle of energy,” Macunas said of Lantieri, who also served on the school’s student council for two years.

Macunas described Lantieri as outgoing and quick to smile, and said his candor was disarming.

“One of the things that I admired about him was that he didn’t try to hide anything. If he didn’t have his homework, he’d come right out and say, ‘I forgot to do it.’ As a teacher, I admired that honesty and integrity,” Macunas said.

Lantieri was the 39th military member with Connecticut ties to die in Iraq and Afghanistan since the wars began in 2002. The last, Army Pfc. Andre Craig of New Haven, died in Iraq in June. Two Connecticut civilians have also died.

Miller said Lantieri had a difficult early childhood with his biological family in the Naugatuck-Waterbury area. She did not want to elaborate. She and her husband, Jon, adopted him, and he grew up in the Miller family with a brother and sister.

He worked a couple of jobs before joining the Army. His mother believes he enlisted because he was looking for adventure and wanted to see the world.

“I think he was anxious to travel and explore,” Kathleen Miller said.

After they learned of his death, Lantieri’s friends posted notes on his MySpace.com page, calling him a hero.

In a MySpace posting in January, Lantieri described traveling around Europe during a 15-day break from Iraq. He said Europe was beautiful, and he raved about the Coliseum, the Louvre and the food.

He wrote: “Europe is a great place to just live for the day and for the moment. For now i will say Arrivederci, Auf Wiedersehen and Au Revoir to europe, but the next time around i’ll be bringing chuck norris.”

Associated Press writer Stephanie Reitz in Hartford contributed to this report.
From Western New England College wnec.edu 10/16/07:

Jason Lantieri '04 and Other Veterans Honored with 21 Gun Salute During Ceremony
Posted October 16, 2007

vetgooden.gifIn honor of veterans everywhere, Western New England College held a Veterans Day Ceremony on November 8 thanks to the cadets and cadre in the Army/Air Force ROTC. The keynote speech was delivered by Major Andrew Gooden '90 (pictured).

To recognize those who have served our country, a 21 gun salute took place followed by the playing of Taps. In addition, the names of local heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country were read aloud, and a speech was given by Western New England College's Allyn Chase to recognize a fallen alumnus, Sgt. Jason M. Lantieri '04. Lantieri was killed earlier this fall while serving in Iraq. To view more photos of the ceremony, click here.

Lantieri was assigned to the Army's 725th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division based out of Fort Richardson, Alaska. His mother says Jason's unit was supposed to come home over the summer, but the unit's deployment was extended. Lantieri was expected home in December for a break and his unit scheduled to leave Iraq in January, according to his family.

After Lantieri’s death, flags flew at half-staff on campus and throughout Connecticut, where he grew up. The men's soccer team observed a moment of silence before its October 11 match with Nichols College at Lusitanio Stadium in Ludlow. Memorial contributions may be made payable to the Jason Lantieri Scholarship Fund c/o Steve Haeckel, 134 Salem Drive, Cromwell, CT 06416. 

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