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Fallen Heroes of North Bergen

Sgt. Marcos Gorra

Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan

Army Sgt Gorra was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina as a paratrooper. He died of wounds sustained while supporting combat operations.

 

At the age of 7, Marcos family immigrated to the United States from Cuba. His family ended up settling in North Bergen, New Jersey where he graduated in 2006 from North Bergen High School. While in high school, Marcos played football and baseball during his freshman and sophomore years but it was as a junior that he began giving serious consideration about joining the Army.

 

In August 2006, he fulfilled that dream. This was his first deployment to Afghanistan and was due to leave the military in approximately eight months. Marcos had a great sense of humor and love for his family. He wore his feelings on his skin – across his chest was a tattoo entitled "Follow Your Bliss" and tattoos of an American flag and eagle on his arm proclaimed his patriotism to this country. He had dual citizenship and also had a tattoo of a Cuban flag. Marcos had made plans to become a New Jersey State Trooper when he left the military. 

Lt. Robert Cirri

September 11 Attacks, New York City

On September 11, Lieutenant Robert Cirri was in his Jersey City office when the first plane hit the Twin Towers. He drove his car through the Holland Tunnel to help. When he was a couple blocks away, he called his wife, Eileen, at work to tell her he couldn’t watch people running out of the building, that he had to help. He called her again to tell her that he and Captain Kathy Mazza were rerouting people who had been heading into a fire. They were on the twenty-eighth floor. When the call came to evacuate after the collapse of the South Tower, Lieutenant Cirri and Captain Mazza were helping a woman down the stairs. They were in the lobby of the North Tower when it collapsed.

 

Cirri, thirty-nine, served the Port Authority for over fifteen years. He was an executive officer at the academy, where he trained others, and had received his promotion to lieutenant in 2000. On weekends he worked part-time as a paramedic at Hackensack University Medical Center. His ham radio operation, which started as a hobby, was used to help people when he joined the Jersey Coastal Emergency Services, a nonprofit organization that monitors emergency airwaves.

 

Lieutenant Cirri is survived by his wife, two children – Robert, Jr., seventeen, and Jessica, thirteen – and three stepchildren, Bianca, fifteen, Francesca, thirteen, and Kara, eleven. On the memorial service program, each of his children wrote a tribute to him. His name also appears on a monument at the base of the flagpole at North Bergen High School from which he graduated in 1980.

Officer Christopher Amoroso

September 11 Attacks, New York City

Officer Christopher Amoroso, twenty-nine, a Port Authority officer who was trained in special tactics and fire control, played an active role in the rescue effort at the World Trade Center. After leading a number of people to safety from the lower levels, he collected oxygen packs and hard hats and was last seen entering the North Tower.

 

Officer Amoroso was born in Rockville Center, New York, but grew up in North Bergen, New Jersey. He had four brothers and two sisters. He attended St. John’s University, then worked for Consolidated Dairies as a route manager until entering the Port Authority Police Academy in August 1999. He graduated in January 2000. According to his father, he had waited five and a half years to get into the academy.

 

A fan of the New York Yankees, Amoroso enjoyed playing hockey, football and baseball. He was also fascinated by history, and two of his favorite activities were playing with his daughter, Sophia Rose, and watching the History Channel. He and his wife, Jaime, lived in Huguenot on Staten Island.

 

On November 28, 2001, Amoroso and another Port Authority officer who died in the World Trade Center attack, Lt. Robert Cirri, were honored by their alma mater, North Bergen High School. Amoroso graduated in 1990 and Cirri in 1980. The sixteen American flags that hung in front of the school were each given to family members after the service. The flagpole was adorned with red, white and blue ribbons. Etched into a small stone monument at the base of the flagpole are an American flag, the Twin Towers, the names of Amoroso and Cirri, their years of graduation, a dedication to all who suffered from the attack, and the following inscription: “In memory of the North Bergen High School graduates who perished in the line of duty at the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001.”

Patrolman Joseph A. Peters

On-Duty, North Bergen Police Department

Patrolman Peters died from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of a defective patrol car. Patrolman Peters was staking out an illegal dump site and, when he failed to report in, other officers found his body in the patrol car.

Another officer who was using the patrol car several days earlier was in the hospital as a result of carbon monoxide after being exposed to it as well. Although the officer was hospitalized the car was never ordered to be serviced and was reassigned to Patrolman Peters.

Patrolman Romeo Caino

On-Duty, North Bergen Police Department

Patrolman Romeo Caino was struck and killed by a vehicle while exiting his vehicle on Kennedy Boulevard between 26th Street and 29th Street.

Patrolman Caino had served with the North Bergen Police Department for 3 months. He was survived by his He was survived by his wife, and two sons, John and Robert. His son John went on to serve with the Hackensack Police Department.

PFC John "Jackie" Hayden West

Second Indochina War, Vietnam

John Hayden West was born on November 29, 1948, in Jersey City, NJ, to Elizabeth and James West. His home of record is North Bergen, NJ. He had two brothers and one sister. To his friends and family, he was known as "Jackie". Jackie graduated from North Bergen High School in 1965. He loved all sports, played football for 4 years, and was the victory game ball winner against St. Joseph's High School. In addition to football, he wrestled for two years, played basketball for one year and belonged to the Key Club. Each year, Scholarship Awards are given to students in memory of Jackie. The Pop Warner football league gives out two trophies in his memory, the Most Valuable Player Trophy and Outstanding Back.

 

Following is a quote from The Pop Warner Awards Dinner Program:

 

Jackie West, who played on the first Pop Warner team, who gave us quite a few thrills at Capsaw Lake in one of our first games, went on to North Bergen High School to play football, baseball and basketball and made the supreme sacrifice on the battlefield in Vietnam.

 

Jackie's ambition was to be an IBM programmer when he was discharged.

 

West served in the US Army and attained the rank of Private First Class (PFC).

 

Jackie believed that if Americans were to remain free then all Americans had to do their share and he was doing his. His wife said that Jackie's morale was high until his last letter. She received it the day before he was killed. He wrote, "We are busy, things are hectic and we were out on a long mission in the jungle. We climbed up and down mountains." The letter continued, "Our mission captured 82 Vietcong and next to their camp, we found a camp of South Vietnamese who said they were shooting at us accidentally. Who the hell are we fighting here anyway?" In another letter, the young soldier said the South Vietnamese treated the Americans well and gave them bananas and other fruits.

 

West was killed in action on March 7, 1969, while under hostile fire in Kontum Province Republic of Vietnam.

West was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with "V" device, the Purple Heart, the Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/Palm Unit Citation Badge, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon. In addition, he had previously received qualification badges for the Expert-Machine Gun Medal, the Expert-Automatic Rifle Medal, the Expert-Rifle and the Expert-Pistol Medals.

 

Jackie was very proud when his nephew, Patrick, was born in 1964. When Jackie married Linda Barsumian on October 6, 1968, Patrick acted as the ring bearer. Jackie was married only six short months before he was killed in action. However, by a stroke of good fortune and a chance meeting at Jackie's gravesite, Jackie's widow, Linda, was reunited with the West family in 2003, after 29 years. She has become close with the family again. Jackie's medals and awards are now proudly displayed in his nephew Patrick's house.

CPL Michael J. Brellenthin

Second Indochina War, Vietnam

Michael J. Brellenthin was born on December 21, 1947. His home of record is North Bergen, NJ. His parents, Clara and Ed, had five children, three daughters and two sons. Michael graduated from North Bergen High School in 1965. Some of his hobbies included fishing, hunting and baseball. He was a talented artist and planned on becoming an architect. He entered the US Marine Corps in May 1967, attaining the rank of Corporal (CPL) and was sent to Vietnam.

 

On February 25, 1968, after his patrol was ambushed, Brellenthin was reported missing in action while following a patrol near Khe Sahn. he left behind a wife, Ruth, whom he had married two weeks prior to leaving for Vietnam.

 

Six months later, Michael was one of nine men reclassified as "killed in action" but only four caskets were sent home for interment. Five remain unaccounted for.

 

There is some controversy regarding his status. The government declared him killed in action, but his family and others believe he is still missing in action.

 

Brellenthin was buried on September 10, 1968 in the Jefferson Barracks Memorial Cemetery in St. Louis, MO. Besides his wife Ruth, he left behind his parents and four siblings, Edward, Ellen, Diane and Barbara Milazzo.

 

Five years later, one of the “buried” men was released by the Vietnamese as a prisoner of war. In August 1978, ten years after incident, the Department of Navy wrote, “there was a chance that Michael did survive.” From then until now, the government has added nothing.

CPL Robert Samuel Allen

Second Indochina War, Vietnam

Robert Samuel Allen was born on August 14, 1947. His home of record is North Bergen, NJ. He had one sister, Linda and two brothers, George and David (both Army veterans).

He graduated from high school in 1966 and played right field for the baseball team. He was known as quite a good athlete. Allen entered the United States Army and attained the rank of Corporal (CPL). He served with the 1st Battalion (Mechanized) 50th Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade. There is a Little League Field on 76th Street, West of JFK Boulevard in North Bergen named in his honor.

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