Saturday, June 02, 2007

Army Specialist Jeremiah D. Costello

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Jeremiah D. Costello, 22, of Carlinville, Ill.

Spc. Costello was assigned to 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Bliss, Texas; died June 2, 2007 of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during operations near Qayyarah, Iraq. Also killed was Spc. Keith V. Nepsa.

State Journal-Register -- CARLINVILLE -

When Elayne Willis first saw Jeremiah "Jeremy" David Costello walk into her classroom at Greenfield High School in Greene County, she immediately noticed his distinctive hair.

"He was my first student to have colored hair. It was either green or blue all the time," the sophomore English teacher recalled Monday afternoon. "I thought, 'Oh, my!'"

She said she soon realized the kind heart that lay beneath the seemingly outlandish appearance.

"He was the nicest boy, and he always had a smile," she said.

Costello attended the high school for at least two years, eventually lost the brightly colored hair and went on to join the Army. The 22-year-old Carlinville native was deployed to Iraq last fall and lost his life there over the weekend.

The Department of Defense has not yet released the circumstances of his death.

The Alton Telegraph reported Monday that Costello was an Army truck driver and died Saturday when a roadside bomb exploded.

He left behind a 4-year-old daughter, Lillian Costello, who lives in Alton, the newspaper reported.

"He loved his daughter more than anything. She was the light of his life," Costello's mother, Debra Costello, who lives in Bunker Hill, told the Telegraph.

She said her son had moved to Bunker Hill with her recently.

Willis said she and many others in Greenfield, a small community about 65 miles southwest of Springfield, learned of his death Sunday after it was announced at a church service.

She recalled Costello's relationship with his daughter, who she said looked just like him.

Willis described Costello as a "special boy" who was always polite in class. "He was just a good friend to everybody. He had a smile for everybody," she said.

"His father passed away the year before I met him. He was so dedicated to his father and his memory. He was very close to his family. He would just always talk about his dad, and do things for his dad and mom."

Newspaper archives indicate that Costello's father, Larry, died in January 1999.

Costello grew up in Carlinville, but he made many friends at Greenfield High, a tight-knit school of about 150 students, teachers and staff say.

Dan Bowman, a longtime football coach and dean at the school, called Costello "a very likable young man."

"I remember talking to him a lot of times. (He was) just kind of quiet. A very solid student," Bowman said.

Evelyn Wellenkamp said she was Costello's guidance counselor and described him as a mild-mannered, pleasant young man.

She could not recall Costello expressing military aspirations in high school but said it's not unusual for Greenfield students to join the armed forces.

"Many of our students do look to the military to either further their education or continue one with some type of career," Wellenkamp said.

Though Willis is proud of Costello's choice to join the Army, she said it's difficult losing a former student.

"It's the first one we've lost, so it's pretty tough," she said. "I'm just real proud of him. I wish I could have told him that."

Costello will be buried at Mayfield Park Cemetery in Carlinville, said Brent Davis, who is handling the funeral arrangements at Davis-Anderson Funeral Home. Details were pending.

Army Specialist Jeremiah D. Costello was killed in action on 6/2/07.

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