Monday, June 06, 2011

Army Pfc. Michael C. Olivieri

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Michael C. Olivieri, 26, of Chicago

Pfc Olivieri was assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.; died of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with indirect fire June 6, 2011 in Baghdad. Also killed were Army Spc. Emilio J. Campo Jr., Army Spc. Michael B. Cook Jr., Army Spc. Christopher B. Fishbeck and Army Spc. Robert P. Hartwick.

Pfc Olivieri graduated from Lockport Township High School in 2002 and attended Southern Illinois University.

Last year, unsure about what career he wanted to pursue, he decided to enlist and serve his country. He joined the Army in January 2010 and served as a field artillery tactical data systems operator. Safe, accurate, and lethal delivery of the field artillery's various fire support systems used to support infantry and tank units in combat. Skills training included methods of computing target locations using computers or manual calculations, ammunition handling techniques, and operating and performing maintenance on related equipment, vehicles, generators, and artillery tactical and data systems).

Pfc Olivieri planned to return to Illinois this month for his sister's wedding and his own first wedding anniversary, which was last Monday.

"Mikey had a big heart and he wanted to help others," his wife said. "He wanted to contribute something big."

Pfc Olivieri had a wonderful sense of humor. He was an avid Cubs and Bears fan. He enjoyed music, playing and singing in the band called the Moops.

"They allowed him to keep the guitar," his wife, Sharon, said. "He said it was such a wonderful thing."

When his commander in Iraq learned Olivieri was a musician, he asked the soldier to perform at the Christmas service on base. After that, Olivieri used music to entertain fellow soldiers, said his wife.

"He really knew how to connect with people," she said. "He was always laughing and making jokes. He'd slow down and really talk to people.

While away, Olivieri had kept in touch with his family by sending emails and singing songs to them via Skype. Once, he performed a puppet show using Beanie Babies for his family, his mother, Jody, said.

"He was loved, and because he was so loved by his family and wife and friends, he was able to extend love," said his mother. "The Army really did give him an opportunity to focus and identify his leadership qualities."

"It was his way of finding himself … finding something he could accomplish," his father, Mike Olivieri, said. "He had a natural ability to lead, and he could influence people."

Friend Tom Bruzdzinski said Olivieri and another friend, Grant Garza, started a band called The Moops that soon added a drummer, and then Olivieri “asked me to buy a bass and learn 40 songs,” Bruzdzinski said. “We weren’t a serious band, just kind of got together, played at a bar in Lockport where Mike worked. . . . . He was the glue that held us together.”

Olivieri, who sang and also played guitar, was “the first person you would go to for anything, advice or support,” Bruzdzinski said. “He would drop everything and give you the shirt off his back.

“He was also super competitive and hated losing. He even hated losing at things he wasn’t good at, like basketball and racquetball. He was the kind of guy who would take charge and lead, so I could see why he would join the Army.”

Pfc Olivieri is survived by his parents, Jody and Mike; wife, Sharon; sisters, Abby, Ashley and brother, Joe.

Army Pfc. Michael C. Olivieri was killed in action on 6/6/11.

No comments: