Friday, April 02, 2010

Army Staff Sgt. Jason C. Russo

Remember Our Heroes

A former member of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center staff, Army Staff Sergeant Jason C. Russo, died April 2, 2010 while on his way home from work as a corrections officer in Orlando, Florida.

Before moving back to the U.S. to be closer to his family, SSG Russo served for two years at LRMC as an LNO for the 316th and 3d ESCs. In his capacity as a Liaison, he tracked nearly 2000 Wounded Warriors - meeting them upon arrival at Landstuhl, guiding them through their stay, making sure they had everything they needed, talking with them, providing a flow of information to both their Rear Detachments back home and their COs downrange, and, when necessary, assisting their family members flown to Germany.

He touched many thousands of lives, smoothing the way during a time of extreme stress and uncertainty. "The Army has lost a very dedicated, loyal and honorable NCO", said former LRMC colleague 1LT Chris Kolbosky.

During his military career SSG Russo received many decorations including a Bronze Star for his service in Iraq prior to being stationed at Landstuhl. He was also a first responder to the Pentagon on 9/11, helping to identify the victims.

Orlando police said Army Staff Sgt. Jason Russo, 38, died after he was knocked off his motorcycle near the intersection of Cypress Lake Glen Boulevard and Chuluota Road.

Police said the driver who struck Russo's motorcycle has a history of alcohol-related offenses, and they suspect alcohol was involved in this latest crash.

Investigators said that while Russo was riding that motorcycle home on Thursday night, he was cut off by Okevin Moradian, thrown from his bike and killed instantly.

"He felt very patriotic," said Jill Gelber, the victim's mother. "He felt very strong about right and wrong, and he believed in doing the right thing."

According to the family, Jason Russo felt the right thing to do after his latest tour was spend more time with his family. Recently, he bought a house in Deltona near his parents and his brothers. He also bought a motorcycle so he could save money commuting to his new job as a corrections officer.

"The family has a hard time understanding that he can serve his country and go to war and come home and get killed by a drunk driver," said Josh Russo, the victim's brother.

Despite their grief, the Russos said they do not want the public to focus on Moradian, who has been convicted of at least two other alcohol-related offenses and is on probation for other crimes including burglary and grand theft. Instead, they said they want people to see the pain and emptiness that can result from a bad decision.

The Russos said a great and dedicated man was lost in a "senseless" mistake. "He loved his family, and he loved life. He lived it to the fullest," said Josh Russo.

“There's nothing that's going to get my brother back, but he shouldn't have been taken away in the first place,” Josh Russo said.

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