70th Anniversary Edition: Remembering those lost while serving our country

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(Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in the Sunday Dispatch on July 1, 2012.)

In November 2010, on the day of the funeral at St. John the Evangelist Church for U.S. Army Corporate Dale Kridlo who was killed in action in Afghanistan, when the city sent out a mass email, asking that flags be lowered to half staff, chamber president Charlie Adonizio was embarrassed.

Unlike the many chamber offices Adonizio had visited in his travels around the country, the Greater Pittston Chamber didn’t have a flag pole.

After the Kridlo funeral, Adonizio thought a lot about the sacrifices of Kridlo and others. “We’re free to pursue our businesses in our country because of men like him,” Adonizio said.

With that thought in mind, Adoniizo decided the chamber should do more than just erect a flag pole. He came up with the idea for a Hometown Heroes Memorial to honor three local servicemen and two local police officers who died in the line of duty.

In Febuary, the chmber kicked off a campaign to raise approximately $30,000 for a memorial to be dedicated to honor Kridlo, 1st Lt. Jeffery DePrimo of Pittston; Lt. Col. Richard Berrettini, formerly of Dupont; State Trooper Joshua D. Miller and Police Officer Rodney F. Pocceschi.

The project includes a 50-foot flag pole, five black polished monuments with affixed brass plates engraved with the likeness and information of the memorialized heroes and a pair of search lights.

The chamber also planted a tree to honor retired United Stats Army Captain Thomas Jerome “TJ” Hromisin who was several wounded in Iraq. An old-fashioned all-American picnic with hog dogs, hamburgs, apple pie and lemonade followed the dedication in the adjacent YMCA parking lot. Adonizio said the outpouring of in-kind and monetary support for the project was heartwarming.

Those memorialized are:

U.S. Army Spc. Dale Kridlo, 33, was killed on Sunday, November 7, 2019 in Kunar, Afghanistan, by wounds incurred when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire. He lived in Hughestown and was a Pittston Area graduate.

Kridlo was assigned to the 275th engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps, out of Fort Bragg, N.C

He was performing route clearance duties in Kunar province, considered one of the most dangerous duties.

Kridlo was awarded the Bronze Star Medal posthumously, Purple Heart posthumously, Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal and Combat Action Badge.

Army service was a family traition. Dale’s late grandfather, Aloysius Kridlo, served in the Army for three years during World War II in Europe. He received five Battle Stars entitling him to the Silver Star. His father Albert is also an Army veteran.

He is survived by 11-year-old twin daughters, Madelyne and Zoe; father, Albert Kridlo, Hughestown; and mother, Michelle Dale, Vero Beach, Fla.

Jeffery DePrimo, 35, a first lieutenant with Delta Company 109th Infantry Division 1st Battalion of the Pennsylvania National Guard, was killed on May 19, 2008 while serving in Afghanistan when the vehicle in which he was riding was hit with an improvised explosive device. DePrimo, a platoon leader for the security force protecting the provincial reconstruction team when the attack occurred, was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Combat Action Badge.

Like Kridlo, DePrimo followed a family tradition of military service. Both his grandfathers served in World War II, Frank DePrimo in the Pacific and Joe Gitkos in Europe, where he fought on D-Day and earned a Bronze star with oak leaf cluster and Purple Heart after being wounded in Germany.,

An accomplished guitarist, DePrimo owned 13 guitars and could play classical and rock. In 2002, his band Mantra, a trio of classic guitarists, released a CD of instrumental guitar music composed by DePrimo.

DePrimo is survived by his parents, Joseph and Helen DePrimo and two sisters, Jodi Ann and Danielle, all of Pittston.

Lt. Col. Richard Berrettini, 52, a Pennsylvania Army National Guard officer who grew up in Dupont, died on January 11, 2008, nine days after the Humvee he was riding in as a platoon leader was hit by an improvised explosive device in Khowst Province, Afhanistan.

He died at the Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas.

He was buried from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Pittston.

Berrettini is survived by two sons, Vincent and Christopher Berrettini, of Eldred, PA.; and a brother, Nello Berrettini, of Dupont.

Pennsylvania State Trooper Joshua Miller, a Pittston Area Patriot, Class of ‘92, was just a week shy of his 35th birthday when he was killed on June 7, 2009, in a gun fight with Daniel Autenrieth, who wielded a gun and kidnapped his own 9-year-old son during a custoy exchange at the boy’s home in Nazareth.

Trooper Miller left wife Angie and daughers, Breana, Justine and Joslyn.

Trooper Miller’s funeral was unlike anything the area had ever seen. It’s estimated that 2,000 law enforcement officers representing 48 of the 50 states, including Alaska, came to his funeral at Pittston Area’s Charley Trippi Stadium where Miller was eulogized by then-Gov. Ed Rendell. Several hundred more people lined the route of the procession of 600 cars and 52 motorcycles.

A portion of Route 611 in Monroe County, near the site where he was killed, was designated the Trooper Joshua D. Miller Memorial Highway. A bill approved by Congress will name the Pittston Post Office the Trooper Joshua D. Miller Post Office Building.

Pittston native Rodney Pocceschi, 33, was killed in the line of duty as a Virginia Beach, Va. police officer on June 23, 2003 during a traffic stop. His 21-year-old killer was a six-time convicted felon wanted for burglary and assaulting a Virginia Beach officer.

Family members of Pocceschi said he wanted to be a police officer since he was a Pittsston Ara High School student. Pocceschi left a wife Maria and a son Carson, then 9 months old.

His sisters Jaclyn Mosley and Gina Boyle founded Fallen Officers Remembered, an organization that donates bulletproof vest to police departments.

Capt. Thomas J. (TJ) HJromisin), of Pittston, was critically wounded by a sniper on May 29, 2007 in Iraq, resulting in blindness and a tramatic brain inuury.

A Mobile Gun System Plattoon Leader in the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Hromision had led 20 combat patrol missions.

He is the son of Jerry and Mary Ellen Hoban Hromision. He was born April 30, 1983 and attended St. John the Baptist Elementary School and Seton Catholic HIgh School where he graduated in 2001 as vice-president of the senior class.

He attended The Universtiy of Scranton on a four-year ROTC scholarhsip, majoring in criminal justice.

During his unit’s deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he led his unit on 20 combat patrols. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal and the Combat Infanryman Badge.

For other 70th Anniversary stories, click here.

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