Thomas Joseph Barbieri II
Specialist, United States Army
RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 812-06 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2006
Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Specialist Thomas J. Barbieri, 24, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, died on August 23, 2006, south of Baghdad, Iraq when his patrol countered enemy forces small arms fire during combat operations. Barbieri was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Media with questions about this soldier can
contact the 82nd Airborne Division public affairs office at (910) 432-0661.
Thomas J. Barbieri, an Army specialist and paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, was deployed in the mountains in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border last year to support national elections there. The 24-year-old North Potomac man was killed in Iraq on August 23, 2006.
An old photograph shows 2-year-old Thomas J. Barbieri dressed in camouflage and face paint. Another, from when he was 6, shows him in Army fatigues.
But a more recent photo of Barbieri, taken last year when the 24-year-old Army specialist and paratrooper was on duty in Afghanistan, shows him looking more like what his friends and family will remember him as — a hero.
"He always talked about being a hero and he was,” said his mother. "That’s how he died, a hero.”
Army Specialist Barbieri, 24, of North Potomac, Maryland, a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, was killed by small arms enemy fire on August 23, 2006, south of Baghdad, according to a statement released by the Army.
"He was a great kid,” said his father, Thomas Barbieri, "‘a good soldier, a brave soldier.”
T.J., as he was called, was the second oldest of four brothers.
"He was a great person, a great brother, a thoughtful brother,” said his mother, Carolann Barbieri. "The brothers had a closeness that was unusual.”
Growing up, there was always a lot of noise and rough-housing, she said.
"We were all super tight,” said his brother David, 27. "We all got into trouble together.”
Barbieri attended Thomas S. Wootton High School in Rockville, but transferred to Poolesville High School his senior year and graduated from there, said Michael Reilly, a friend of the Barbieri family and a former teacher at Poolesville.
"He was a shy young man, but he just had a wonderful way about him,” said Reilly, who taught Barbieri at Poolesville and also is a close friend of the family. "He was someone who had great insights about things.”
He had been in Iraq four weeks, his father said.
The family last spoke to Barbieri at around 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, his father said.
"We always told him that whenever he was by a phone, to call us 24 hours a day,” he said.
He sounded good on the phone, the family said.
"He was upbeat,” his mother said. "He sounded strong, but he didn’t like the heat. He told us he loved us and we told him we loved him.”
Barbieri joined the Army in October 2004. In 2005 he was deployed in Afghanistan to support the national elections there.
"‘He was tough as nails,” said his brother Stephen, 22. "But he had a heart. He had a big heart.”
Before entering the Army, Barbieri was a member of the Volunteer Fire Department in Rockville.
His prized possession was his silver 1967 Mustang, a vehicle that had been passed down through the family.
"He loved that car,” David Barbieri said. "That car represented him. That and his aviator shades.”
His family and friends remembered him as a young man with a truly unique personality, sharp sense of humor and creativity.
"He was the most naturally gifted of all of us,” his brother Matt, 19, said.
He was also a talented artist and writer.
"T.J. was very funny,” said Laura Bradbard of Laytonsville, who lived for many years down the street from the Barbieris. ‘‘He was very artistic. He drew a beautiful picture for my daughter’s bat mitzvah program.”
Bradbard said Barbieri’s intelligence and wit made him stand out.
"One thing that really struck me was that when he graduated from high school, we sent him a normal graduation present and his thank you note to me was written in the voice of his pet ferret,” Bradbard said. "I said to my husband this kid is so sharp and so creative and so different.”
Even the soldiers in his company appreciated his humor.
"He was well-liked and respected by all who knew him,” First Lieutenant Phllip Smith, former company executive officer of Barbieri’s company, said in a statement. "His sense of humor and loyalty will always be remembered by his fellow paratroopers and family.”
Reilly said he talked to Barbieri after his first jump as a paratrooper and saw that he had grown up from a boy to a man.
"‘He’s the kind of person you’d call a hero,” Reilly said. "Real heroes are people like T.J. He gave his life for this country. And he had a lot to offer.”
A memorial service was held in Iraq on August
24, 2006. The family is still making arrangements for a local service and
a burial with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
U.S. Army Specialist Thomas Joseph Barbieri II was funny, artistic, determined and loving. He died "a noble and heroic man," doing what he had always wanted, when he was shot by insurgents in Iraq.
The life of Specialist Barbieri, 24, was celebrated Thursday at a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Mary's Church before several hundred friends, family members, buddies from his airborne infantry regiment and firefighters who knew him as an emergency medical technician volunteer in Rockville.
Monsignor John F. Myslinski acknowledged that Specialist Barbieri died too young in a homily that lauded Spc. Barbieri for his willingness to make the bravest and most noble sacrifice.
"He gave his life for all of us, as have so many young men and women who have died for their families and for their loved ones," Monsignor Myslinski said.
Monsignor Myslinski spoke of Specialist Barbieri's extraordinary achievement when he was killed near Baghdad and fired fatal shots at his killers as he went down.
"He was one of those people who allow heroism to overcome their fear of death," he said. "But T.J. is, finally, all about one thing. It was all about love."
His mother, Carol Ann Barbieri, read a poem written by her son when he was volunteering with the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department which spoke of returning home.
"T.J.'s" home," she said. "He was a gift we had."
His father, Thomas Barbieri, said his son served well in the line of duty.
A cousin who said he and Specialsit Barbieri were childhood buddies was one of many family members who considered him a hero before he sacrificed his life.
"He had an incredible knack for telling a joke," said Stephen Barbieri, one of Specialist Barbieri's three brothers. "People of all ages appreciated his humor. He gave his life for his family and all of you."
Michael Riley, who taught at Poolesville High School when Specialist Barbieri was there in his senior year, said he had a wonderful life and brought joy to the world.
"He was very well-informed and well-read," he said. "He read the encyclopedia for fun. He was an exceptional writer, an accomplished artist and naturally witty. He had a great sense of humor and was a great practical joker."
He noted that Specialsit Barbieri, who served for six months in Afghanistan before leaving for Iraq a month before he was killed, was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
"He was proud to be in the Army," Mr. Riley said. "He was a patriot and a hero. He was killed in action protecting our way of life."
An uncle, Pete Barbieri, praised the bravery of offering one's life so others may live, as did Specialist Barbieri and all the other brave soldiers who laid down their lives.
Firefighters said his death is like losing a member of the family.
Rockville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Russell Dawson remembered that Spc. Barbieri was always studying. He recalled that Specialist Barbie redid his old 1960s Mustang so it looked new.
Specialist Barbieri of Gaithersburg was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Caroline. Several members of the regiment participated in the funeral service.
The family and other mourners left the church to travel with a police motorcycle escort to Arlington National Cemetery, where Specialist Barbieri was laid to rest.
Posted: 23 August 2006 Updated: 1 September 2006 Updated: 22 October 2006 Updated: 27 January 2007 Updated: 4 May 2007 Updated: 12 January 2008 Updated: 5 July 2009
Photo Courtesy of Holly, October 2006
Photos Courtesy of Holly, September 2006