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Fort Drum remembers soldiers killed in 2012 at ceremony

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FORT DRUM — The lives of six 10th Mountain Division soldiers killed during deployments in 2012 were remembered Tuesday at a ceremony on post.

“They are a credit to America, and they represent the finest of our American spirit,” said retired Maj. Gen. Galen B. Jackman, the ceremony’s main speaker. “They are simply the best of us.”

The soldiers honored at the ceremony were Spc. Junot M.L. Cochilus, 2nd Lt. David E. Rylander, Staff Sgt. Daniel A. Rodriguez, Sgt. Jose J. Reyes, Pfc. Jose O. Belmontes and Sgt. 1st Class Bobby L. Estle. All of them served in Afghanistan with the 10th Sustainment Brigade at the time of their death.

Mr. Jackman, former division chief of staff, noted the wide range of backgrounds that make up the service and the common goal the soldiers had.

“They came from every corner of our country, and raised their right hand to support and defend our Constitution,” he said. “They became our warriors; they are our sons and daughters, our sisters and brothers and our neighbors.”

Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, post and division commander, said he wished that Tuesday’s ceremony was his last, but noted that the post community would have to return next year for another remembrance ceremony.

The division has had six soldiers killed in 2013, already matching the total for all of 2012.

Gen. Townsend told guests to remember the 5,281 soldiers from the division’s 1st, 2nd and 4th Brigade Combat Teams along with its 10th Combat Aviation Brigade who were either on their way or deployed to Afghanistan.

For Francis L. Paranzino, the father of Sgt. Michael F. Paranzino, who was killed by an improvised explosive device in November 2010, Tuesday’s ceremony was a chance for reflection that he didn’t have when he first attended the annual ceremony in 2011.

“In the beginning, the intensity was so much it seems almost unbearable,” he said. “As time goes by, you try to get some meaning.”

Asked what meaning he had found in the time since his son’s death, Mr. Paranzino said, “You realize our whole lifestyle is paid for by many sons and daughters.”

“You just decide you’ll never take it for granted,” he said.

A group of Paranzino family members, including the sergeant’s wife, Lindsey Christopher-Paranzino, and children, Logan S., 12, and Maxton F., 5, mother, Melane C., and brother, Daniel F., also took the time around the ceremony to go out to dinner with members of Michael’s unit, the 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team.

Among the Gold Star family members in attendance was Paul Monti, father of Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti, who was killed in 2006. Mr. Monti has received some notoriety in recent weeks because of the popularity of the Lee Brice country song “I Drive Your Truck,” which was written by songwriter Connie Harrington after she heard an interview Mr. Monti did on NPR about his son.

The division band played the song before the ceremony, and Gen. Townsend talked to Mr. Monti after the ceremony next to his son’s Dodge Ram truck.



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