A Fort Carson soldier who was killed in Iraq was honored on Friday. Staff Sergeant Tony Bertolino died when his convoy was ambushed on November 29th. The memorial was delayed until now at the request of the family.
Even though SSG Bertolino died more than a month ago, there was no shortage of people to say goodbye. The Soldier Memorial Chapel at Fort Carson was packed to honor what everyone says was a special man.
SSG Stephen “Tony” Bertolino’s story is like those of many of the fallen soldiers at Fort Carson---dedicated to the service of his country and committed to the mission in Iraq. "He was a great man---a well-respected man by the soldiers, by friends and by family," said SGT Cyrus McCoy.
Affectionately called “SGT Bert” by his troops, he always put the welfare of his men before himself. "When we did get water, we had to take cold showers. So SGT Bert made it possible to get a hot water heater for the barracks so we could take hot showers."
Even officers above SSG Bertolino respected his leadership. "There are always ones that are better than others and I would say that SSG Bertolino was probably one of the best NCOs the Army had," said 1LT Derek Bothern.
Although he was an aircraft electrician, he volunteered for the tough missions to make sure it was safe before sending his troops. He was on just such a mission, when his convoy came under fire and he was killed. "If he was gonna tell you to do it, he was gonna do it too. And that’s the best kind of leaders. He led by example."
Staff Sergeant Tony Bertolino leaves behind a wife and four children. He was 40 years old. Those who knew him best say, Bertolino took a religious approach to his service and saw helping his fellow man as his own personal mission.