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Navy Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class (SW) Michael J. Pernaselli

Died April 24, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

27, of Monroe, N.Y.; assigned to patrol coastal Firebolt, forward deployed to Manama, Bahrain, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom; killed April 24 in a waterborne attack in the northern Persian Gulf.

Although they hadn't seen each other for almost three years, Michael Pernaselli, a Navy petty officer, and his elder brother, John, an Army captain, never passed up a chance to rib each other about their military career choices. "It was a big joke between the two of them as to who was the better, the Navy or the Army," said their father, John, his voice wavering with emotion. Michael Pernaselli, 27, was one of three Navy and Coast Guard servicemen killed April 24 in a waterborne suicide attack on an Iraqi oil terminal. Pernaselli grew up in Brighton, N.Y., and joined the military after high school. He had previously toured the Persian Gulf and Kosovo and, in January, was sent back to the Gulf to serve on the USS Firebolt. He once excelled at splatball and was a devoted pro wrestling fan. "That was kind of like his release," his father said with a laugh. Pernaselli, who was divorced, had custody of his daughters, ages 3 and 4, who are living with their grandparents. When he called home a few days before his death, "he just wanted to talk to his two girls and see how they're doing," his father said.

— Associated Press

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