This Memorial Day will take on special significance in West Pittston as the community mourns the loss of 1st Lt. Jeff DePrimo, whose Pennsylvania National Guard armory unit was based in the borough.
The 35-year-old Pennsylvania National Guard officer from Pittston was killed Tuesday morning in Afghanistan when the vehicle in which he was riding was hit by an improvised explosive device.
West Pittston Mayor William Goldsworthy said Thursday the borough purchased small American flags and spools of ribbon to honor DePrimo.
To represent the Purple Heart DePrimo will be awarded posthumously, the purple ribbons will be tied around the trees and poles and the flags will line Wyoming and Susquehanna avenues.
“We are working hand in hand with the National Armory unit. We are in contact daily to make sure DePrimo has the most appropriate and well deserved honor for his burial,” Goldsworthy said.
Members of DePrimo’s unit, Delta Company, 109th Infantry Division, will march in the West Pittston parade, Staff Sgt. James Stasser said.
The parade will begin at 11 a.m. after assembling at Montgomery Elementary and head down Wyoming Avenue to Wyoming Area Catholic School, where it will end. A program will be held at the rear of St. Cecilia Church, 1700 Wyoming Ave.
Funeral services for DePrimo are still pending. His remains were flown back to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Thursday, Pennsylvania National Guard Lt. Col. Chris Cleaver confirmed.
DePrimo is survived by his mother, Helen Ann DePrimo of Pittston, father Joseph DePrimo of Ransom, sisters Danielle DePrimo of Wilkes-Barre and Jodi Calabro of Exeter.
Two other Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers from the 109th riding with DePrimo were injured when the bomb hit.
One of the men was “very seriously injured” and flown Wednesday to a U.S. Army facility, the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and the other soldier was treated for non-life threatening injuries at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, according to Public Affairs Specialist 1st Lt. Jay Ostrich of the Pennsylvania National Guard. Their names were not released.
DePrimo is the sixth person from Luzerne County to die in the line of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan since the war began in 2003. The others are:
• Sgt. Sherwood Baker of Plymouth, was killed in an explosion while serving with the 103rd Armor Regiment of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in Iraq on April 26, 2004.
• Sgt. 1st Class Paul Karpowich, 30, a Freeland native who lived in Bridgeport, was killed Dec. 21, 2004, when an explosion hit a dining hall tent at Forward Operating Base Marez near Mosul, Iraq. He was serving with the 98th Division of Rochester, N.Y., a non-combat unit, which normally trains reservists and active-duty soldiers.
• First Lt. Michael Cleary of Dallas, a platoon leader in the 3rd Infantry Division, led his unit to a bomb factory near Samarra, Iraq on Dec. 20, 2005. The unit destroyed the factory and was returning from its mission when it was ambushed by insurgent forces.
• Petty Officer 1st Class Gary Rovinski, 44, was killed on June 5, 2006, in Al Anbar Province, Iraq when his Humvee was struck by a roadside bomb. Rovinski, a Mountain Top native, was assigned to the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 25 in Fort McCoy, Wis.
• Pennsylvania Army National Guard Lt. Col. Richard J. Berrettini, 52, of Eldred, McKean County, died on Jan. 11, 2008, nine days after the Humvee he was riding in was hit by an improvised explosive device in Khowst Province, Afghanistan. He died at the Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. Berrettini was a native of Dupont.