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Army 1st Lt. Salvatore S. Corma II

Died April 29, 2010 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

24, of Wenonah, N.J.; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died April 29 at Forward Operating Base Bullard, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using improvised explosive devices.

Town stops to remember fallen O-2

By Shruti Mathur Desai

(Camden, N.J.) Courier-Post

WOODBURY HEIGHTS, N.J. — Friends and family of 1st Lt. Salvatore Corma gathered to pay their last respects to the fallen soldier during religious and military ceremonies May 12.

It was a day when faith and mission convened, where the “Ave Maria” was immediately followed by “The Star-Spangled Banner.” That’s because Corma loved the church and the military, friends and family said.

“He did what he loved and he loved what he did,” said his uncle, Martin Keeney, before reading Psalm 23. “He loved his brothers and sisters in arms.”

Corma died April 29 in Afghanistan, after waving aside 18 other soldiers to isolate an improvised explosive device. He was 24.

Before the start of Mass at Infant Jesus Parish at St. Margaret’s Church in Woodbury Heights, Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, who serves as the commanding general of Fort Bragg where Corma served, held a private ceremony with the family.

He presented several posthumous medals, including the Purple Heart and a recommendation that Corma receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The bells of the church tolled as Corma’s coffin was escorted out. The American flag was carefully draped across as his parents watched.

The mile-long funeral procession that snaked between Infant Jesus Parish and the Gloucester County Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Monroe was watched by dozens of mourners.

Fire departments brought out their rigs and hung American flags across the roadway, while firefighters and emergency medical personnel stood at attention at the side of the road. Police cars blocked traffic, the officers standing respectfully.

One man, caught by surprise by the procession, swept his weathered brown cap off his head, and stood on the sidewalk in salute, his hat and hand over his heart.

The students of St. Margaret’s School, which Corma attended, lined the street holding small American flags as the hearse carrying Corma’s coffin went by. It was preceded by an honor guard of police and motorcycle riders.

Corma’s mother, Trudy, smiled and waved at the children as she went by. That smile stayed on her face throughout the day.

It was from his mother that Corma learned his optimism, said Rev. Paul Galetto, president of St. Augustine’s Preparatory School, where Corma graduated in 2004.

Galetto, who presided over Mass, advised mourners to banish such thoughts as “Why do the good die young and why did Salvatore die?” Instead he encouraged them to remember Corma’s endless optimism, a trait that kept him smiling from the moment he walked in the doors of the school until the day he left.

“Sal was irrepressively happy,” Galetto said. “Sal never knew how to do anything but his best.”

Galetto said Corma embodied the spirit of service and good deeds, not for his own sake, but to earn the honor of friends, family and “a grateful nation who gives thanks for men and women like Salvatore Corma.”

At the veterans’ cemetery, Corma, a 2008 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, was given military honors, with a 21-gun salute and a bugler playing “Taps.”

Corma would have appreciated the military pomp, said his best friend, Robert Cahall.

“There’s nothing he loved more than the military honors.”

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