SSGT Joseph Francesco Curreri

SSGT Joseph Francesco Curreri

Birth
Baltimore, Baltimore County, Maryland, USA
Death 27 Oct 2007 (aged 27)
Sulu Province, Muslim Mindanao, Philippines
Burial Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Section 89A, Row A, Site 16
Memorial ID 22546271 · View Source
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Army Staff Sgt. Curreri was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Lewis, Washington as a communications sergeant. He died in Siet, Lake Jolo Island, Philippines at the conclusion of an arduous, 11-hour scuba-training mission. Joseph, who swam like a dolphin, had grabbed a mask and snorkel and jumped back into the water to retrieve a USC medallion and St. Christopher medal that had slipped off during official diving maneuvers and settled to the bottom of the lake. Somehow he misjudged where they were and as he was trying to resurface, he blacked out, faded back down and drowned. Evidence points to a phenomenon called shallow water blackout that has stricken even the most expert divers and swimmers. Joseph grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore and at an early age he became a Civil War buff. While attending the Jesuit run Loyola Blakefield High School, he was a four-year varsity letter winner in swimming and founded his high school water polo team. After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Southern California when he fell in love with it on a recruiting trip. While at USC he earned a Bachelor of Arts in History. Joseph was a member of a four-man relay team that took first place in the 800-meter freestyle at the U.S. Spring Nationals in 1999. He qualified for the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials and was voted captain of the swim team for the first half of his senior year. He also served as the Executive Vice President of USC's Student Athlete Academic Council in 2000-2001. After graduating from USC, he worked as a history tutor, swim coach and recruiting coordinator for a recruiting agency in El Segundo, California. Joseph was loved by everyone who knew him and much admired for his incredible work ethic and spirit. At 6 feet 1 inch, heavily muscled with blue eyes and sandy blond hair, he was know for his heavy duty bear hugs. For fun, he read history books and Russian literature – his idea of a good time. After the September 11 attacks, Joseph wanted to do something. His longtime interest in war history and public service propelled him to attempt to join the Navy. He wanted to become a Navy SEAL, to make use of his skills as a waterman, but was rejected because of an old back injury from weightlifting in college. Joseph decided to appeal his medical disqualification and was granted a medical waiver. Instead of heading for officer school, he decided to enlist in 2004 so he could work his way into the Army's elite Special Forces. His Army buddies, some from competing colleges around the country, remember how Joseph would constantly subject them to his singing of the USC fight song. His awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Parachutist Badge, Special Forces Tab, and Special Operations Divers Badge. He was posthumously awarded the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Meritorious Service Medal. Joseph was part of a group helping to train Philippine government troops fighting Islamic militants in the nation's southern islands and was due to return to the United States with his group on November 8. He was married to a fellow USC graduate, Athena Wickham and planned to pursue a doctorate in history after completing his military service. In an essay titled "Why I Wish to Become a Green Beret", Joseph wrote, "When my children ask me what I did to avenge the assault of September 11th, I shall be able to look them in the eye, without a hint of hesitation, and respond that I answered the call of our nation."


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Brenda N
  • Added: 29 Oct 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 22546271
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for SSGT Joseph Francesco Curreri (23 Sep 1980–27 Oct 2007), Find A Grave Memorial no. 22546271, citing Los Angeles National Cemetery, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Brenda N (contributor 46490312) .