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Old 01-05-2009, 06:42 PM
GyBill GyBill is offline
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L/Cpl Alberto Francesconi USMC, 21, Bronx, NY (Afghanistan)

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Alberto Francesconi, 21, of Bronx, N.Y., died Jan. 1 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

For additional background information on this Marine, news media representatives may contact the 2nd Marine Division public affairs office at (910) 450-6575.

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Old 01-07-2009, 02:49 AM
GyBill GyBill is offline
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A Bronx Marine is the first U.S. casualty in Afghanistan this year - killed by a land mine during an ambush New Year's Day in a tragedy his family learned of as they gathered to ring in 2009.

Lance Cpl. Alberto Francesconi, 21, died during combat in the volatile southern Helmand Province.

"I still don't believe it. I think it's a mistake, a dream," said his 23-year-old wife, Cynthia.

Francesconi's older brother, 39-year-old Navy reservist Robert Rivera, said his family was gathered at their home in Bedford Park to ring in the new year.

Around 11 p.m. - which was 9:30 a.m. New Year's Day in Afghanistan - one of Francesconi's fellow Marines called from the battlefield to tell them he had died.

"The first to find out was my mother and father," Rivera said. "I tried to settle her down. She kept saying the only way to confirm it is if they come to the door."

Just minutes before midnight, there was a knock on the door. Two Marines appeared in the doorway to confirm their worst fears.

"At least he was fighting for something," said his mother, Minerva Negron, 58. "He died like a hero."

"I am just praying for the other soldiers," she said.

"All of them are like my son. When I read the newspapers, when I see the news, I cry for them, too."

Since the war began in 2001, 631 soldiers have died in Afghanistan.

This was Francesconi's second deployment to a combat zone. He left for Iraq in July 2007 - and returned home New Year's Day last year.

Rivera said his brother was nervous about going to Afghanistan, which has gotten increasingly violent over the past year.

"He told his wife ahead of time, 'Just in case I don't come home, I want to be buried with my grandmother,' " he said.

His mother said she took comfort in knowing that her son would be laid to rest next to his grandmother.

"She's going to take care of him," she said.

Rivera said he last spoke with his brother two days after Christmas.

"He told me they were out in the field and one of his partners stepped on a land mine. Luckily it was buried deep into the ground so he just shattered his ankles," he said.

"But after that news, he was getting scared a little more. It's worse there than people are talking about."

Francesconi, who was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C., will be flown to New York on Tuesday.

His funeral is scheduled for Friday.

sgaskell@nydailynews.com
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