Thursday, September 13, 2007

Army Sgt. Anthony LaSelva

Remember Our Heroes

Soldier dies in crash

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Anthony LaSelva served as an Army National Guard sergeant in Iraq for 15 months. He was killed in a motorcycle crash.

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LaSelva's poem to his mother
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JOSE F. MORENO/Courier-Post
John and Jeanne LaSelva hold pictures of their son, Anthony, who was killed three months after returning from Iraq. ADVERTISEMENT

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Courier-Post Staff

Outside Anthony LaSelva's Turnersville home on Saturday, a handful of his family and friends couldn't help but note the irony.

The 21-year-old Army National Guard sergeant survived 15 months in Iraq only to perish on a poorly lit Washington Township road less than three months after returning home.

"When he got home, I thought, "Thank God he's safe'," said LaSelva's mother, Jeanne. "I never thought that, a couple of months later, he'd be gone."

Anthony LaSelva, who would have turned 22 on Sept. 22, was killed in a motorcycle crash on Selena Road about 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2007, his family said. The 2004 Washington Township High School graduate lost control of the motorcycle during a sharp turn near Egg Harbor Road and hit a telephone pole, said his father, John.

The younger LaSelva was thrown from the bike and hit a tree, his father said. He was taken to Cooper University Hospital, Camden, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The elder LaSelva said two of the street lights were broken and his son likely did not see the curve until it was too late.

"When his brother told me what happened, I couldn't believe it," said Dan Fischer, who lives across the street. "I thought he was invincible."

Anthony LaSelva was among the 159 soldiers, 148 of them from New Jersey, ordered in January to remain in the war-torn nation for an additional 125 days.

The New Jersey soldiers were among the more than 4,000 troops from the Minnesota National Guard's 1st Brigade, 34th Infantry Division who left Camp Shelby in Mississippi on March 16.

They were originally scheduled to stay a year. He survived the additional four months in Iraq. Then Anthony LaSelva died on the new Kawazaki ZX 10 motorcycle he told his fellow soldiers he would purchase upon returning home.

"He was so proud of it," said Pat Weaver, a childhood friend. "Just a couple of days ago, he told me if he died, that's how he wanted to go -- riding his bike."

"That's what he died on, the bike of his dreams," John LaSelva added. "I don't think the bike killed him. I think they went together."

LaSelva said his son was so proud of the bike he made sure it was always the last and most visible vehicle in the driveway.

"He liked anything with a motor in it," LaSelva said, adding that his son had just started classes at Gloucester County College and hoped to become a financial adviser.

Until Anthony LaSelva joined the National Guard immediately after high school, father and son used to ride together or work on vehicles every weekend. On Friday nights, Anthony LaSelva and friends headed to Fuddruckers on the Black Horse Pike, where car enthusiasts gather weekly to share their love for all things fast.

"He lived life like there was no tomorrow," John LaSelva said. "If we could've told him he would have so much more time to live, he wouldn't have changed a thing."

Army Sgt. Anthony LaSelva died 9/13/07.

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