Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Army Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Oliveira

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Oliveira, 33, of Newark, N.J.

SSgt Oliveira was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 113th Infantry Regiment, 50th Brigade Combat Team, Riverdale, N.J.; died Oct. 19, 2011 in Paktika province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

SSgt Oliveira, a native of Portugal, came to the U.S. when he was 7, the son of immigrants who spoke no English.

He graduated from Newark’s East Side High School in 1996 and went to Essex County College. He worked as a busboy at the Mediterranean Manor because he could walk there from his house.

He joined the National Guard in 2003. He joined the Army in 1997, serving three years, then joined the National Guard where he was involved in operations in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2004, and relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

He got a job with the Essex County Sheriff’s Office. He did so well on the civil service law enforcement exam that he got offers from five communities right away. Waiting for something with the Newark PD or the Essex sheriff, he passed up on those offers.

"The kid wanted to serve his community," said Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura, himself a Portuguese-American. "That’s all he ever wanted, to be an American, and to be part this community. His mother said he learned the language in six months."

SSgt Oliveira joined the sheriff’s office in 2001 and served as a member of the S.W.A.T. team and warrants squad. Most recently, he was a detective with the fugitive squad.

"He had a perfect attendance record, every year since he’s been here. Never took a sick day,” Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura. "He was one of the very best. Very dedicated."

Whenever fellow officers in the sheriff’s department or soldiers in his guard unit wanted to spend the holidays with their wives and families, Oliveira was the first to volunteer to cover their shifts, Fontoura and family members said.

When his unit was deployed to Afghanistan earlier this year, Oliveira decided to go, even though he didn’t have to and even though his mother begged him not to.

I said ‘we don’t want to push our luck. You get back here quickly. And he said ‘boss please don’t worry, you know how much I love this job. I’ll be back here soon and I’ll get back to work as soon as I can,’” Fontoura said.

SSgt Oliveira had previously served a year in Iraq. He deployed to Afghanistan in June expecting to come home next March.

"He was such a great brother, just an awesome person," said his sister, Jessica Oliveria, fighting back tears outside the family’s home in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood. "Words can’t even describe how great he was. He always put everyone else before himself."

While on leave last month, he bought a new motorcycle and had closed on a new house in Elizabeth. Once his tour was up next year, he wanted to "travel the world" on the vacation of a lifetime, his sister said.

SSgt Oliveira's awards and decorations include:
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
National Defense Service Medl
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star
Expert Infantrymand Badge
Air Assault Badge

SSgt Oliveira was laid to rest on October 28 in a special section of the Holy Cross cemetery near a new 9/11 memorial of a brushed aluminum frame and a fiery cross, among World Trade Center victims and service members.

SSgt Oliveira is survived by parents, Amanda and Manuel, sister Jessica and brother Marco.

Army Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Oliveira was killed in action on 10/19/11.

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