Based: Ft. Bragg, N.C.
2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: October 15, 2006
— Sgt. Nguyen HuynhOctober 19, 2009 at 12:26 p.m.
From the LA Times:
Lester Domenico Baroncini Jr. always wanted to be the same thing for Halloween: either a cowboy or a soldier. Those who loved him knew him as both.
In the Army, young recruits teased the 33-year-old rancher, labeling him "Old Man."
The reserved but easygoing Baroncini was "one of the best troopers we had in the company, one of the hardest-working guys you'll ever meet," said Lt. Jake Cross, 25, who served with Baroncini at Ft. Bragg and is stationed in Iraq. "A lot of guys depended on him for his experience and for his knowledge."
Baroncini worked in the armory at Ft. Bragg, issuing weapons to new soldiers. "It's a pretty hectic job [and] can be very, very stressful," Erath said.
Baroncini, who could rattle off the names of weapons and parts just from their serial number, "was just a wizard at it," Erath said. "It's really hard to lose a brother like that."
Baroncini aided with relief efforts in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in October 2005, and hoped to revisit the city he helped rebuild when he returned, Harrison said. Baroncini was scheduled to return home at the end of October.
Baroncini's high school shop teacher wasn't at all surprised when he heard that his former welding student had joined the Army. "You don't find many like that," Mike Battistoni, 54, said of Baroncini, who would help out around the classroom, tutoring other students.
Baroncini's patriotism went way back, said James Gill, who befriended Baroncini in high school history class, bonding over football. The two were both strong supporters of U.S. efforts during the Persian Gulf War, said Gill, 33, an Air Force technical sergeant in Wichita Falls, Texas.
With any serviceman he'd encounter, Baroncini would tell them "thank you, flat out," Gill said. "He stood up for what he believed in, right, wrong or indifferent."