Pennsylvania soldiers suffer their deadliest day of the Iraq war
PHILADELPHIA – Pennsylvania is mourning the deaths of seven National Guard soldiers killed in Iraq in less than four days, including five slain during the deadliest day of the war for the state’s soldiers, the governor announced Wednesday.”It brings home the crushing reality of this war,” Gov. Ed Rendell said at a Capitol news conference.The five killed Tuesday include Gennaro Pellegrini Jr., a 31-year-old Philadelphia police officer; John Kulick, a 35-year-old firefighter from Montgomery County; and Nathaniel DeTample, the 19-year-old son of a Bucks County detective.The National Guard declined to say Wednesday how or when the three died, or to confirm the deaths of the two other soldiers Rendell was counting. Two additional Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers were killed Saturday in Iraq.National Guard officials planned news conferences Thursday, said Guard spokesman, Capt. Cory P. Angell.Given the number of Pennsylvania guardsmen in Iraq – about 3,000 troops – the state has been “relatively lucky,” Rendell said.In Ohio, the 3rd Battalion Marines’ Lima Company recently lost 16 Marine reservists over a 10-day period.Just weeks before Pellegrini left to train for Iraq, he won his first professional boxing match with a fourth-round knockout at the famed Blue Horizon club in Philadelphia.”He had a lot of heart, a lot of determination,” said police Capt. Lou Campione, Pellegrini’s superior officer. “He was there for you. He covered your back.”Whitpain Township Fire Marshal David M. Camarda learned of Kulick’s death early Wednesday. Kulick was the township’s assistant fire marshal and had worked in the department for seven years.”John was just a dependable individual,” he said. “He was the guy that if the shift started at 9:30 p.m., he was there at 8:30 to make sure everything got done right.”DeTample, a graduate of Pennsbury High School, was the son of police detective Glenn DeTample in Lower Makefield Township. “He was loved by all the police officers. He was a good, good boy,” said township Police Chief Kenneth Coluzzi.The recent list of the dead also includes Sgt. Brahim Jeffcoat, 25, of Philadelphia, and Spc. Kurt Krout, 43, of Spinnerstown. Both died Saturday when their convoy struck a bomb 60 miles north of Baghdad.
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