Monday, October 29, 2007

Army Maj. Jeffrey R. Calero

Remember Our Heroes

Army Maj. Jeffrey R. Calero, 34, of Queens Village, N.Y.

Maj. Calero was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Massachusetts National Guard, Springfield, Mass.; died Oct. 29, 2007 in Kajaki, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated while he was on dismounted patrol.

The love of liberty began burning brightly in Jeffrey Calero at an early age.

While other kids left the usual and sometimes goofy messages in their high school yearbook, the quote under Calero's name read: "Live free or die."

Maj. Jeffrey Calero died Monday when a roadside bomb exploded near him in Kajaki, Afghanistan, while he was on patrol as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, military officials said.

The 34-year-old soldier from Queens Village was serving with the 1st Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group of the Massachusetts National Guard based in Springfield.

His heartbroken parents said last night the death of their "baby" - the youngest of four children - was almost too hard to take. "The only consolation is that he really believed in what the men are doing over there," said Calero's dad, Ray, 65. "They offered him a promotion several times, but he turned it down to stay with the Special Forces," the father said.

Calero, who was born in Puerto Rico and came to the U.S. at the age of 1, attended Incarnation Elementary School in Queens Village, St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows, Queens, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he studied mechanical engineering and was a member of the ROTC.

Calero, described by friends as a "quiet guy with a subtle sense of humor," came home "as often as he could" to spend time with the family - especially his two nieces, whom he doted on - said his mom, Roselle, 66.

"The last time was on the weekend of Oct. 6," said Calero's mom. "We got everybody here and we cooked everything he liked. I'm so glad we did it because he really enjoyed himself."

She said she exchanged the last e-mail with her son three days before he died. "I said I love him and he told me he loved me. That was it. And now he's gone," she said, her eyes glistening.

Army Maj. Jeffrey R. Calero was killed in action on 10/29/07.

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