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Army Capt. Gregory T. Dalessio

Died June 23, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

30, of Cherry Hill, N.J.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany; died June 23 in Baghdad of wounds sustained in Salman Pak, Iraq, when his patrol encountered small arms fire during combat operations. Also killed was Pfc. Bryan M. Thomas.

Cherry Hill soldier loved family, God

By George Mast

(Cherry Hill, N.J.) Courier-Post

Those who knew Greg Dalessio are quick to point out two traits in his life — his love for his family and his faith in God.

These foundations were echoed throughout the funeral mass of Capt. Gregory Dalessio, 30, on Wednesday. Dalessio died June 23 in Baghdad, Iraq from injuries suffered in an attack that day during his second tour of duty.

The Cherry Hill native was laid to rest with full military parade in Colestown Ceremony following the morning service at St. Peter Celestine Church on Kings Highway.

“When thinking of Greg only one word comes to mind — family,” his younger brother Nicholas Pagano shared during the service.

Dalessio was the oldest of eight children.

“There are few things left in this world that can not be measured and Greg’s love for his family remains one of those things,” Nicholas said.

Greg’s brother Daniel Pagano read a letter to the approximately 400 gathered at the parish that his brother had sent from Iraq two days after Thanksgiving.

In the letter Greg said he was writing to his family in the place of Christmas presents and took time to individually thank each one for their impact on his life. The letter drew laughter at times and moments of silence at others as family members fought back tears

Greg described one sister as giving the best hugs in the world and to a brother he attributed the title “king of love.”

To his mother Maureen Pagano, Greg wrote, “You are my favorite person in the world.”

He went on to say that he only hoped to one day become half the parent his mother had been to him and his siblings.

While Dalessio will never get that chance, Father Thomas Newton, the pastor of St. Peter Celestine, where Dalessio was an active member, pointed out that he had already impacted all of their lives.

“Think about the good that he has brought into your life,” he said.

Newton said to observe Dalessio’s life of love and service is to see an example of Jesus himself.

Dalessio was raised in the Knollwood section and graduated from Bishop Eustace Prep School in Pennsauken in 1996. He was fatally shot June 23 as he emerged from a weekly reconstruction meeting with Iraqi officials. A second U.S. soldier, Pfc. Bryan M. Thomas, was also killed in the attack.

In the moments after the shooting Dalessio’s captain held him in his arms and told Dalessio he loved him, Newton said, adding that moments later Dalessio was handed into the arms of God.

Military representatives presented Dalessio’s family with the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Combat Infantry Badge at the close of the service.

The flag draped coffin was escorted to Colestown Cemetery by around 30 members of the New Jersey Patriot Guard Riders. The bikers, comprised mostly of veterans, lined the front of the parish before the service with U.S. flags.

Several members of the military who served with Dalessio were present on Wednesday.

Lt. Col. Jeff Grable, described Delassio, who served under him in Iraq in 2006, as a man with exceptional character.

“He got tough jobs done and I didn’t have to check up on him,” Grable said.

While Delassio’s leadership and personality set him apart from others, Grable referred back to the familiar traits as to what stood out most in Delassio’s life.

“There was no questioning Greg’s faith and Greg’s love for his family and his friends,” he said.” There wasn’t anybody that did not know about Greg’s family.

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