Monday, August 08, 2011

Army Sgt. Alessandro L. Plutino

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Alessandro L. Plutino, 28, of Pitman, N.J.

Sgt Plutino was assigned to 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.; died Aug. 8, 2011 in Paktya province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire.

PITMAN — Looking down at a military photo of his son Sandrino on Monday, Sandro Plutino said softly, “He was so proud.”

Sgt. Alessandro 'Sandrino' Plutino, a U.S. Army Ranger from Pitman, was killed in action in Afghanistan Monday.

Alessandro “Sandrino” Plutino, 28, was in the final weeks of his sixth tour of duty as a U.S. Army Ranger when he was killed by enemy gunfire Monday in Afghanistan while leading his fellow Rangers in an assault.

Plutino — a Rifle Team Leader in B Company, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment according to the U.S. Army Ranger Association — was serving his third tour in Afghanistan after serving three tours in Iraq.

“He should have been out in March, but he left on this special mission March 7 — he said he had to,” said Plutino’s mother, Dianne Hammond. “He always wanted to be in the Army. On his good-bye cake there was a picture of him at four years old with his wooden gun and camouflage. He wanted to leave high school when he turned 18 to serve, but I wouldn’t let him. Then when 9/11 happened, he tried to leave college, but his uncle talked him out of it. After college, he signed up.”

Hammond said she and her family spoke to Plutino Sunday night when he called to reassure them he hadn’t been involved in Saturday’s helicopter crash in which 30 U.S. troops were killed. Twenty-two of them were Navy SEALs that were rushing to help Army Rangers who had come under fire.

Plutino’s fiancee, Natalie Layton of Glassboro, said he seemed excited to come home.

“We’ve been together 10 years. We were supposed to get married next summer so we were planning everything out,” said Layton. “He was supposed to be done in the spring, but he went on this mission. His country meant more to him than anything else. If it was up to him he would’ve quit high school to go. He always said ‘This is my calling.’”

Layton said Plutino was “the strongest person I ever met.”

“We balanced each other out,” said Layton. “I’m so vulnerable, and he was always the strong one. When he loved something, he really put his mind to it. He loved his country, he loved his family, he loved all of us.”

“And we couldn’t have been prouder of him,” added Plutino’s older sister Brenna.

Hammond said, in addition to his commitment and patriotism, her son could be remembered as the kid who always had a smile on his face.

“Even when he was very young, he could just walk into a room and capture it,” said Hammond. “He was special. And I know every mother’s son is special, but he really was. People have been coming here to the house all day, his friends, his buddies from the motorcycle group he rode with. He loved to ride, he played football and wrestled, he was an all-American boy.”

Army Sgt. Alessandro L. Plutino was killed in action on 8/08/11.

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