Saturday, August 07, 2010

Marine Pfc. Vincent E. Gammone III

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Pfc. Vincent E. Gammone III, 19, of Christiana, Tenn.

Pfc. Gammone was assigned to 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died Aug. 7, 2010 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while supporting combat operations. Also killed was Lance Cpl. Kevin M. Cornelius.

Christiana Marine Pfc. Vincent E. Gammone, III, was killed Saturday in Afghanistan after a prisoner being transported by Marines attempted to escape a convoy, shooting and killing Gammone and at least one other Marine in the process.

Gammone would have celebrated his 20th birthday Tuesday, according to his fiancee, Jessica West. West and Gammone's mother, Lorraine Gammone; and grandmother, Ellie Gammone; were notified of Gammone's death Saturday. Gammone's mother and grandmother were expected to arrive back in Tennessee Tuesday from Dover, Del., where they received the Marine's remains.

"We were told that Vincent was one of the first to go to the aid of another Marine who had been wounded by the escaped prisoner, who was able to arm himself during his attempted escape," West said. "We found out he was shot in the collarbone."

An official casualty report from the U.S. Marine Corps reads Gammone, of Laredo Court in Christiana, and Lance Cpl. Kevin M. Cornelius, 20, of Ashtabula, Ohio, died while supporting combat operations in the Helmland province of Afghanistan.

"His mom has been in shock," West said. "She cried a little and is trying to stay strong. Vincent was very special to his mom and his grandmother."

Gammone's father, Vincent Gammone, II, suffers from multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with one another. West said when the older Gammone learned of his son's death he "didn't believe it was his son" at first. "Yesterday (Monday) it finally hit him."

The death of Gammone has shown West and the rest of the Gammone family the strength of their small neighborhood, which sits at the edge of Christiana off Barfield-Crescent Road. Neighbors on Laredo Court and surrounding roads are sporting flags on mailboxes and houses and in yards, all in remembrance of a community hero.

"We have had a full house the past three days," West said.

Neighbor Margaret Felts said neighbors were equally shocked by Gammone's death.
"You hear about it on the news, but everything is very abstract," Felts said. "It happened to somebody else and you don't ever think of it hitting that close to home. It's been a major shock. He's only 19 years old and had his whole life in front of him."

Felts' daughter, Krista Felts, grew up with Gammone and attended school with him.
"I grew up with him and spent 14 years with him," she said. "Right now I'm just in shock and disbelief. I remember when we were in school ... if you didn't have a friend, he was the one that would run up to you and be your friend and talk to you even if everyone else was ignoring you."

A Facebook fan site dedicated to the memory of Gammone was created Monday. The group had almost 70 members by mid-day Tuesday, almost three days after news of Gammone's death first began to spread.

Eagleville High School, where Gammone graduated in 2008, has flown its flag at half-staff since educators there learned of his death, according to family members. West recalled that one of Gammone's "big passions" was for band, which he participated in throughout his high school career.

"He was in the band and played trombone," West said, adding "he and I were also in ROTC together."

The Eagleville High School band, via band director Kelly Medford, plans to honor Gammone throughout its halftime shows this fall, according to Gammone's neighbors and family members. Medford could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

A New Yorker by birth, Gammone moved to Tennessee with his family when he was 2 years old, according to West. When terrorist cells hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001 — West remembered Gammone became infuriated and his passion to join the military became stronger.

Gammone had aspirations to join the Navy and to become a military officer once his contract with the Marines expired, West told The DNJ. His ultimate goal, however, was to become a police officer and raise a family with West.

But instead of wedding plans and a future full of unlimited possibilities, West and the Gammone family are now preparing to bury their young Marine. Funeral arrangements were still in the process of being planned Tuesday.

"I'll remember his kind heart," West said. "He was very forgiving and very loving. I'll remember his love and passion for band and the Marine Corps and his love for me, his family and everyone he met."

Marine Pfc. Vincent E. Gammone III was killed in action on 8/7/10.

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