Monday, September 24, 2007

Army Cpl. Anthony K. Bento

Remember Our Heroes

Army Cpl. Anthony K. Bento, 23, of San Diego

Cpl. Bento was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Sept. 24, 2007 in Bayji, Iraq, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using small-arms fire.

UNION-TRIBUNE – Army Cpl. Anthony K. Bento was supposed to arrive home from Iraq in July. Then his combat tour was extended by 90 days.

During that extension, Bento, a father and respected combat veteran at just 23, was killed in a small-arms attack by insurgents. He was due home at the end of October.

Bento, a Clairemont High School graduate in 2002 and an 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, died Monday in the north-central city of Beiji.

“The news of his death was completely devastating because he was due home in 26 days after 13 months of time in Iraq,” said his wife, Colleen.

Survivors also include his 13-month-old son, Anthony, and his parents, Anthony and Penny Bento, all of whom live in San Diego.

Bento's platoon leader, 1st Lt. Timothy Ball, remembered him for his professionalism and care for his family.

“Corporal Bento was a paratrooper who'd accepted more responsibility early in his life than most people accept before they're 30,” Ball said in a statement issued yesterday. “His wife and his son were the primary focus in his life.”

Colleen Bento described her husband as having “the most fun-loving personality and an untamed spirit that not even the Army or war could break.”

Bento joined the Army in early 2005 and that September became part of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.

“He dedicated himself to taking care of his brothers in the platoon, and he died doing just that – taking a knee outside the truck, making sure that his gunner's backside was covered,” Ball added. “He will be missed by all of us.” With Bento's death, at least 44 service members from San Diego County have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Friends turned Bento's MySpace page into a makeshift Internet memorial site.

“You died in the most honorable way imaginable and we all admire you for your courage,” wrote one friend. “Your legacy will always live on through your wife and son.”

The most heart-felt message might have come from Anthony himself, who wrote on his MySpace page: “My family is the best thing that's ever happened to me. I thank the Lord every day for blessing me with my awesome wife and a perfect son. Without them, I would be nothing.”

The last message Colleen Bento ever sent her husband was published on the page Sept. 20, four days before his death.

“I got your text messages this morning and you are soooo sweet! I love you so, so, so, so much! Only a few weeks left until I get to see you and give you kisses and move into our house and buy furniture. I'm so excited I can't stand it! Stay Safe.”

Army Cpl. Anthony K. Bento was killed in action on 9/24/07.

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