Iraq war claims first local life

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:45

    WEST MILFORD-A young local man, Brian P. Parrello, a lance corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, was slain just a week short of his 20th birthday during a land-based combat operation in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, on Jan. 1. He became the first local resident killed during the Iraq war, according to Town Clerk Kevin J. Byrnes and a spokeswoman for Richards, the local funeral home. Ironically, the 2003 graduate of West Milford High School normally was assigned to small riverine boats patrolling waterways "like the Tigris and Euprhates," said 1st Lt. Kate VandenBossche, a public affairs officer with the 2nd Marine Division. Riverine boats are the "SWIFT" boats of Vietnam fame, on which former presidential candidate John F. Kerry served. The public information officer declined to provide further details on Parrello's death, saying such details could provide information of use to the enemy. However, the lance corporal apparently died doing what he wished to do: serving his country. While in school, Parrello aspired to joining the military. That jelled into determination following the 9-11 attacks on the United States, according to an article in the New Jersey Herald on Tuesday. Realizing he would face assignment to a combat zone, Parrello nevertheless enlisted in the Marine Corps following graduation, the Herald reported, quoting his older brother, Anthony: "He always wanted to stick up for the little guy." FSgt. Martin Hansen, the casualty assistance calling officer who notified the Parello family, confirmed the family was devastated by the loss. The family reportedly was notified of his death about 2 p.m. Saturday. By Monday, word had spread throughout this 80-square-mile community. A funeral liturgy is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Joseph's Church, Germantown Road, West Milford. Friends and relatives should meet directly at the church, said a funeral home spokeswoman. Interment will be in the church cemetery In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Brian P. Parrello Scholarship Fund c/o Lakeland Bank, 1527 Union Valley Road, or to the West Milford Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 72, West Milford, N.J. 07480. To those who knew him, and to those with whom he served, he will remain forever as part of the few, the proud, The Marines.