Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Army 1st Lt. Neil Anthony Santoriello

24, of Verona, Pennsylvania.
Santoriello died in Khalidiyah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his mounted reconnaissance patrol vehicle. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 34th Armor, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas. Died on August 13, 2004.

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"I will never forget and think of you often"
Rich G of Hershey PA

"Lisa, Diane, and Neil,
We haven't forgotten."
Vince & Shanna Comparato of Omaha, Nebraska

"It has been ten long years, but it seems like yesterday since we got the news. We miss you and love you as much then as we do now.
Love, Mom and Dad"
Diane & Neil Santoriello of Verona PA


Can't believe it has been 10 years. There is rarely a day that goes by that I don't think of you. Life has changed greatly in those 10 years and now I have 3 boys that can know of the heroes that I served with. You can bet their life lessons are going to include being a competent, moral and caring person leader like 1LT Santoriello. Thanks for being a brother so far from home and I wish all the best for Lisa and the rest of your Family."
Lonnie Moore of Chula Vista, CA

"We are having a gathering in Neil"s Memory on August 10. If interested send me a message @ DianeSantoriello@gmail.com"
Diane and Neil Santoriello of Verona PA

"Beloved son, I will be reading your name at the Vietnam memorial along with 9 others as part of Memorial Day activities. Miss you always."
Mom of Verona, PA

"And then lo and behold, we can lend, then enrol for that and the South depended upon slavery and so on., Phen375 Ingredients, >:), Phen375, %-OO, Phen375 Side Effects, %-D,"

"Dear Neil, Diane, and Lisa,
Neil was one of my favorite students, and I think of him often. Today, I read the names of fallen servicemembers, and I read his aloud. I am still deeply saddened, and yet I know my loss can't compare with yours. Please know that, all these years later, others still care and remember. I have another student who is an Iraq veteran. On Veterans' Day, they drink to the honor and memory of their lost friends. When I told him about Neil, he promised to have a drink in his honor. Please accept my best wishes for you on this day."
Stephanie Anderson of Laramie, WY

"We thank those who continue to leave messages on this page. It brings us some comfort that Neil is still in the hearts of so many. Never be afraid to contact us.
Diane and Neil Santoriello of Verona PA

"Neil I continue to serve to honor you....."
JK of Fort Lee, VA

"hey sir...ive tryin to stay away from this page for a while...brings back to many painful memories...i just hope your at peace......Thank You Sir."
Dinmore of Angeles City, RP

"I'm doing my best with the extra time you gave me. I pray you're at peace.

Duty First."
David J of Fort Riley, KS

"It has been nine years and we still love you, talk about you and cry for you.
mom and Dad DianeSantoriello@gmail.com"
Mom of Verona PA

"Reading a bio and aching to talk to you about it- still miss the little things as well as the big things my dearest son. Love,Mom"
Diane Santoriello of Pittsburgh


I think of you often.....your memory will not be forgotten..."
Rich of Hershey PA

"Mr. and Mrs. Santoriello and Lisa,

Neil and Lisa were our next door neighbors in Ft. Riley, KS. We moved to Germany the June before that fateful day in August. It is still burned in my memory of giving Lisa that last goodbye hug and telling her to hang in there, she only had a couple more months to go. I still think about Neil and Lisa and their wonderful smiles and easy humor. They were so young, full of life and love.

Today, Brad is in Washington D.C. for a Big Red One Division Dinner. He visited Arlington National Cemetery today and came across Neil's gravesite. He paid his respects to Neil and other friends that have made the ultimate sacrifice. It has been almost 8 years now, but Neil is not forgotten! God Bless you all until you see your Neil again. Sincerely, Shauna Laauwe"
Shauna of Manhattan, KS

"For many the war is over, but for so many people it is never over. We still miss you.
Mom and Dad"
Diane Santoriello of Verona

"Would the person who kindly contacted me earlier this year and included the picture of Neil recontact me- I lost your email. Many Thanks
Diane Santoriello of Verona PA

"Another birthday without you. You should be growing older, but instead you are forever young and our hears are forever broken. Love Mom and Dad"
Diane & Neil Santoriello of Verona PA

"I can"hear" you Say beer For My Horses and whiskey for my men. Missing you."
mom of Verona/Penn Hills

"It seems like yesterday that you were born and you grew into such a wonderful man. We are so proud of you. For the last six years our hearts have remained broken. We long for you to be among us. We know that someday we will be reunited. Your memory is forever blessed. Love, Mom and Dad DianeSantoriello@gmail.com"
Diane & Neil Santoriello of Verona PA

"Still thinking about you brother everyday never forgetting my lil brother that is what you were to me make sure you keep things in order in heaven I'm back in Iraq again I always tell people I hope I didn't go back because I didn't leave anyhting there but that is not true I left part of my heart there for a brother when I lost you but as Lisa says it's getting easier but you will never be forgotten love you man (Predator 1 Golf)"
SSG Ricky Garner of Fort Hood, TX

The days get easier, but your memory never fades.
Your Lisa"
Lisa Santoriello of York, PA

On days like today when life seems to come crashing down all around me, all I can think to do is talk to you. I have tried to live my life as you would want me to – as everyone who died to keep me alive would feel proud of me for. Some days it seems like I have let you down – let all of you down. I hope I do not fail you. I’m trying, bud. I’m doing what I can, and I hope that you continue to guide me. Today I really need it. As always, I miss you, and I am sure you’re aware. I haven’t seen you in so long, and I hope that I get to see you again (even if it is just a dream, or a hallucination or whatever the folks at the VA call it). I don’t want to be a victim of my own devices. I want to live my life, I want to love, I want to be just and do right and honor you and the others. But I need your help. Please, brother. Stay with me.
-Love always"

"Neil, my son, you are truly a "borrowed angel." I cannot accept that you were needed more in heaven than here on earth.
We carry on, but you are always missed.
Diane Davis Santoriello of DianeSantoriello@gmail.com

"”Honor and Remember” - “Project Compassion” We love our Soldiers! We love our country and we cannot express enough love and compassion to the families of our fallen heroes. War does not discriminate – It breaks our hearts to see the faces of the fallen. We want to give this gift to you. We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization! Over 1,750 portraits have been completed and shipped to the parents and or spouse - at no cost as this is a gift from one American to another!
Mothers and/or Fathers, of our heroes, please be aware that the Project Compassion sponsors will now help cover the costs of the portraits for you to have one - regardless if the spouse of the hero has one or not!
Contact us directly at Projectcompassion@manti.com. or go to www.heropaintings.com . If you have already had a portrait completed, we pray that you are enjoying the portrait and bless you.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Project Compassion
P.O. Box 153
Manti, Utah 84642"
Project Compassion - Kenna of Manti, Utah USA

"I never knew Neil, but one of his best friends, Mathew Bocian, is a very, very special person to me and so, in a roundabout sort of way, Neil is also very special to me. I know that yesterday was the fifth anniversary of his death and I just wanted to thank him for giving up his life and his family for continuing to live on, despite how difficult it must be. My thoughts are with all of you."
Melissa Geib of Pittsburgh, PA


I miss you."
Lisa Santoriello of York, PA


It has been awhile brother, but you are forever etched into my memory. I will always cherish the friendship we forged in war. Who knows, we might not have ever met if it wasn't for an Infantry and an Armor Platoon Leader being brought together so far from home. On this Memorial Day, as so many other days, you are missed. We will never know why things worked out the way they did, but I promise to never let your memory dissapear as long as I walk this earth. Be well and I look forward to meeting again on the other side. As I know you are, continue to watch over Lisa.

CPT (R) Lonnie Moore
1/16 Infantry, 1st ID
Khalidiyah, Iraq 2003-2004
Lonnie Moore of San Diego, CA

"I knew LT Santoriello for most of the tour. From living in the hangar, to moving in to tower. He was a competent young man that truly cared about those around him. His memorial was the first and only I attended. I will never forget the speech his gunner gave, about how they met during training, then met again at Ft. Riley in the motorpool. LT Santoriello even told me that he used to work with veterans fighting to receive compensation for exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam and how he used to track them from station to station. Although we didn't really get along, I still respected him for what he was: a simple, honest, brave patriot that I will never forget. My condolences to his bride he never stopped talking about, and, I'm sure, was always on his mind. Feel free to contact me at frmrsldr@hotmail.com"
Kevin Stonestreet of Fontana, CA

"My name is Peggy Santoriello and I unfortunately never had the opportunity to meet Neil. The only time I saw him was when my father and I showed our respects at his funeral. My thoughts and prayers are always with my extended relations whom I really do not know personally, but I can say I am very proud to be related to Neil Santoriello."
Peggy Santoriello of Belle Vernon, Pa 15012

"Neil is remembered at www.eaglescoutbadge.com"
DFM of Modesto CA

"Dear Neil and Diane,
It is almost a month since we met in Washington, D.C.. Thank-you for sharing your stories and feelings with Larry and me as we shared our stories of Warren with you. The e-mail address you gave me comes back as undeliverable. Please contact me so I can send you the picture with Arren on your lap while waiting for the Metro. murphybonnie@cox.net Thank-you again for sharing and expressing all the pain and the joy of having a son like Neil."
Bonnie Murphy of Crown Point, LA

"To Lisa, Diane and Neil, Sr.,
I just got out of the Marine Corps on 2 July. I had planned on getting out two years ago for my daughter, however I knew I had to continue to serve for Neil since he couldn't. Therefore, my last two years spent were the best for they were for him. David is preparing to head for Iraq. I think about Neil everyday and talk often about him to Olivia and David. Congrats on having the archery range named after him. Someday, I hope to visit with Olivia and David and sit on his bench."
Julie Bell of Jacksonville, NC

"Dear Neil,
Every time I talk to someone about this horrible war I see your face, I think of those who love you and know in my heart the longer we are there the more lost we become. Take care Warrior, you serve now in the fight for peace."
Liz Tamburri of Pennsylvania

"July 6, 2008
To the family of 1st Lt. Neil Anthony Santoriello:
Neil gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"I was asked by my community to present today's (5-26-08) Memorial Day speech. I shared the following as a tribute to Neil.

Thank you for the privilege of sharing with you on this Memorial Day. It is an incredible honor to speak on behalf of the heroes of our nation who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to maintain our freedom.

Six years ago my father, Virgil Hostler, a naval officer during WWII, served as the Memorial Day speaker in his hometown of Bellwood, PA. In his speech, Dad shared that in our nation's 230 years of military engagements, 2,600,000 of our military had been wounded or killed. 2,600,000...to me it was a number - a huge number - but that number had no face to it. I was grateful for our fallen heroes who had given their lives for our freedom but only knew of them as a number in a book.

My dad and four of his brothers had served during WWII, an additional brother served before the war and yet another brother after the war. One of these brothers developed several forms of cancer as the result of flying through a nuclear cloud while in the line of duty. For the sixty years following that flight, he has endured a large number of cancer surgeries, but is still alive today at the age of 91. My father was assigned to a battleship on which he was to work in the radio room. Due to a last minute change of orders Dad wasn't on that ship when it took a direct bomb hit to the radio room and thus Dad's life was spared.

My father-in-law served as a bomber pilot in WWII, my brother-in-law faced combat in Vietnam, and my husband served in the Air Force. Thankfully, today they are all still with us.

But four years ago Memorial Day took on a whole new significance for me. Please allow me to share with you the story of Army 1st Lieutenant Neil Anthony Santoriello, son of my fellow teacher and friend Diane Santoriello.

As a boy Neil loved airplanes, guns, and tanks, and beginning in 5th grade he dreamed of one day serving as a commissioned officer in the Army. A member of Boy Scout Troop 139, Neil was described by Scoutmaster Jon Hackett as helpful, courteous, and kind. He demonstrated true leadership qualities. When there was a job to be done, Neil would get started and then others would join in. Neil received scouting's highest award of Eagle Scout for his project of refurbishing the Boyce Park Archery Range.

Following graduation from Penn Hills High School Neil was awarded an ROTC scholarship to Dickinson College where he majored in political science. He was named Executive Officer or Second in Command of the ROTC cadets whom he served as both teacher and mentor. As one of his superiors noted, "You could count on Neil to get the job done."

Following graduation from Dickinson, Neil's lifetime dream came true when in June of 2002 he was commissioned in the Army. He and his wife Lisa soon left for Fort Riley, Kansas. In August of 2003 Lieutenant Neil Santoriello left for Iraq to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom as an armor officer and tank commander in the Army's 1st Infantry Division and Platoon leader for Company A.

As an officer, Neil was described as a powerful leader who inspired those around him. He loved both his country and the Army and felt a strong sense of duty. He was a hard worker and a person of honor, honesty, courage and dedication. He focused on taking care of the men in his platoon. He expressed concern for their safety and provided them with guidance. Truly, he put others' safety above his own. The rights, liberties and freedom of others meant more to him than his own life.

As a person, Neil maintained a quiet optimism. He was confident yet humble, caring and gentle. He had an infectious smile, a great laugh, and a wonderful sense of humor. Neil was a loyal friend and trustworthy confidant. He loved children as much as he loved the Army. Iraqi children called him "Captain Neil" and benefitted from his big heart and unselfish, generous nature as he would stop and give them food. Even Neil's puppy Diego back in Kansas was the recipient of toys which Neil sent to him from Iraq!

In August of 2004, just 2 weeks from Neil's return date to his home base in Fort Riley, Kansas, his family was vacationing in Ocean City, N.J. They sensed something was wrong. Neil's dad, Neil Sr., felt the urge to look for his son, as if he were searching for a lost little boy. Neil's sister Amy felt the urge to buy a $1 slice of pizza as she had done with her brother on prior vacations. Neil's mom Diane felt an incredible, stabbing pain rushing through her body. As she started to cry she tried to tell herself that this was just her imagination taking over. But the day after Neil's family returned home, an Army official came to their house to share the devastating news that Neil was gone. On August 13th Neil had died near Fallujah, Iraq when an improvised explosive device detonated near his mounted reconnaissance patrol vehicle.

Neil's parents lost their only son - the boy who had loved to fish, hunt, and rock climb. His dad lost his lifetime pal - the one who partnered with him in hitting golf balls and accompanying him to car shows. Sister Amy lost her only sibling and closest friend. When Neil had attended Dickinson College he would call his dad to ask, "How about lunch?" Neil Sr. was always happy to drive 4 hours to Dickinson to meet his son for lunch and then 4 hours back home. Now Neil's family drives 4 & 1/2 hours to Arlington National Cemetery to honor Neil's memory and 4 & 1/2 hours back home with pain and emptiness in their hearts. Neil's mom spoke with anguish for herself, Neil's dad, his sister, and his wife when she said, "Our loss is so profound that it defies words."

How can we ever repay Neil and his family and the multitude of military personnel down through the years who have given their lives for our freedom? I'm convinced that we can't! We can neither bring back Neil or any of the other fallen heroes, nor can we heal the hole in their family members' hearts. We will be forever indebted to them.

We can't repay the debt, but there are so many ways we can express our heartfelt gratitude.

We can remember and honor our fallen heroes by placing flags on their gravesites and honoring their memory at Memorial Day ceremonies. We can honor their comrades who are still in active duty by sending letters and care packages. For the wounded, we can help by contributing clothing and household goods to the Paralyzed Veterans organization. We can visit patients in the veterans' hospitals.

We can honor the families of our fallen heroes by being a listening ear when they want to share, and by praying that God will soften their pain. As Neil's mother said, "Nothing gives us greater solace than to hear from those who knew him and share their 'Neil stories' with us." We can write entries on the websites of our fallen heroes.

We can honor the country our heroes gave their lives for by voting and becoming politically active. We can display the flag in our yards and at our places of employment and really mean the words when we say the Pledge of Allegiance.

We must keep alive the memory of our fallen heroes in the minds and hearts of the next generation by telling them about their sacrifices, by encouraging participation in patriotic organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and by supporting the dream of those who choose to enter the military.

Most importantly, we can strive to live a life worthy of the blood which has been shed for our freedom. Our lives must be lived meaningfully as a "Thank You" for the freedom which was bought for us at such a terrible price. We must never, never take our freedom for granted!

Thank you for allowing me to share, and may God continue to bless the United States of America!"
Bev Weston of Mars, PA

"It's Memorial Day and I found this site. All weekend long I have been thinking about Neil and the great times that we had at Dickinson College. I remember drinking pitchers of Beer with Neil at the Plunkett and laughing so hard. I remember how impressed I was with Neil and all that he could do. I remember how everyone loved him and he saved my butt a time or two.He was so excited to join the army. It was all he talked about at times and it was easy to see how much it meant to him. I am rambling but I guess it is just easier to say that I miss my friend."
Ryan James of Boston, MA

"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Santoriello,
You may not remember me, but I haven't seen you two since long before this terrible event. Therefore now I would like to give you my condolences. I am very sorry about Neil. I remember my mom, Betty, talking about it. I cried histerically for a long time after Aunt Gloria died, so I couldn't even fathom what it would be like to lose a child. I'm afraid I am speechless, I don't want to upset the two of you. For I know from experience ,that even though something happened a few years ago, it could come on all at once and upset me again. I am very sorry for your loss. Hang in there, and I hope to see you two again soon. Love you."
Julia Valentine of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US

"Mr. and Mrs. Santoriello,
You may not know me but I am one of the Boy Scouts that was at the funeral home the years ago. It has taken me a long time to get over the fact that he is gone. I did not know him, but only of what Matt Czegan and Dave Ricupero say of him. I am sorry for your loss, and my prayers are still with you."
Bryan McCormick of Pittsburgh, Pa/Usa

"Although he's my cousin, I never knew Neil. I am so sorry for your loss, from all that I've heard and read, he was a great person and example to others. I am a fifth grade teacher, and it's people like Neil that I want to make my kids aware of. Please accept my condolences. I hope everyone else comes home soon."
Sarah Santoriello of Annapolis, MD

"I never knew Neil, but I understand the importance of his choices. He chose to volunteer, and to become involved with our nation's problems in its hour of need. He made a choice to sacrifice himself for others.

Here's to him, and his brothers in arms."
DF of Jacksonville, NC

"This would have been your 28th birthday. We love and miss you. You were simply the best!"
Mom and Dad of Verona, PA

"I honor this young man's memory and the words and love exhibited by his parents.
The decisions of our leaders are grinding our youth into the ground and destroying the honor of being an American."
GH Wilson of Jefferson Hills, Pa.

"I knew Neil in Boy Scouts. He was a good guy. I'm glad to see he hasn't been forgotten."

"I did not know Neil, but I just saw his mother on a Channel 11 news story about the Iraq war.

To Mrs. Santoriello - I just wanted to express my condolences for the loss of your son."
Anonymous of New Kensington, PA, USA

"Lisa- Cameron and I often think about you and today I googled your name. We went to Neil's grave at Arlington in October 2004 and placed flowers on it. Cameron stood silently by himself for a long time. On his wrist he wears a remembrance bracelet. It has Neil's full name, date and place of death. He only takes it off to sleep and shower. Cameron visits Neil's memorial in JC each year. I tell you this because your husband was a great man and we'll never forget him, or you."
Amanda Tross of Manhatann, KS

"Oh Mr and Mrs Santoriello and Amy,
I'm so sorry for your loss. Neil had such a big heart."
Sally of Erie

"I knew Neil at Dickinson College where I worked. He was a great young man. Lisa worked for me at DPS. He is a hero to me and many others!"
Rich Gagliano of Hershey, PA

I miss you everyday and I always will. I don't think that I could ever love another the way I love you. You are my prince. Please continue to watch over me and take care of me. Never leave my side. I need you and I miss you so much. I always think what our lives would be like today. I miss your smile and your touch. What happened to us is not fair. I long to see you again. I love you and always will.
Your Wife
Lisa Santoriello of York, PA

"Neither my wife nor I knew Lt. Santoriello.

But just last night we met his father when we were shopping for furniture. During a conversation with him, he told us about his son.

I want Neil's parents, his relatives and his friends to know that I will be forever indebted and grateful to Lt. Santoriello for his ultimate sacrifice.

How many more young men and women have to join him in Heaven before we come to our senses? How many more?"
Henry and Norina Daubner of Mt. Lebanon, PA

"On this the 27th year since Neil’s birth we would like to thank those who continue to honor his memory and share their remembrances with us. As parents our loss is so profound that it defies words, yet nothing gives us greater solace than to hear from those who knew him and share their “Neil stories” with us. DianeSantoriello@hotmail.com"
Diane & Neil Santoriello Sr. of Verona PA

"Neil will be missed but he is with us today. If I had to pick one word to describe Neil it would be unselfish. Neil was a true soldier and lived an ethical life one that is a great example for all. Neil has a place in Heaven and we can now pray to him for guidance and the ability to stay focused on what matters most in life, our family, friends, and ability to stand up for what is right. Any parent would be proud of Neil and he is the definition of a "true friend", the type of friend that is there for you at all times. Neil is still with us as a guardian angel in spirit as well as he was our guardian on earth."
J.R. DiCarlo of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

"Although Neil left us early, he lived his life full of love and generosity. The life I strive to live every day. I have always been humbled by the courage and dedication he put forth to whatever he accomplished.
Neil especially embraced his family and friends, and illustrated true loyalty of friendship.
I consider my self a lucky person to have known Neil and that he shared a part of his life with mine.
Thank you Neil!"
Joe Falcon of Philadelphia, PA

"I will never stop thinking of Neil, and apprecating all he did. He was the bravest and most caring person I have ever known. I pray to him every day. Words cannot explain how much we all miss him."
Rick Smith of Pittsburgh, PA/USA

"we miss him very very much
he was loved by everyone"
jake of verona

"To the Family of Neil Anthony Santoriello:
My heart breaks again as I sign yet another guest book of another courgeous young soldier who gave their life so selflessly. I wish I never found myself in a position to have to sign another guestbook for the rest of my life. We lost a son 12/1/05.
I know first hand there are no words right now that will bring you the comfort and peace you need. Just know that you are not alone. My heart, thoughts, and prayers are with you all as you mourn this loss. We don't know each other, will probably never meet, but will forever be united in the loss of our Heroes. We have, unfortunately joined a group none of us wanted to join, an ever-growing group of families in this situation. May God grant you peace and strength to get through this and be able once again to smile at a memory rather than have only the tears that flow so easily now. To be so proud of your loved one and so saddened at the same time is a mix of emotions very difficult to deal with. I am sorry that I never knew your soldier personally, but none of these courageous men and women will be forgotten. They will never be able to be replaced, but sometime, someday your loving memories will help to sustain you. This courageous soldier will forever now be your Angel watching over you all for the rest of your lives. It's what brings me some measure of peace and comfort and I hope it will you as well. To his family and friends in pain, I offer this comfort. When you find yourself in that dark sorrowful place, think not only of how you will miss him, but instead recall the years, days, hours and minutes gifted to you by his presence. If you ever want to talk, I'm only an e:mail away and would love for you to tell me more about your Hero. God Bless this courageous soldier and family.
Pam Adams (SFC Brent Adams, KIA 12/1/05 Ramadi, Iraq)
(Millersville, PA )"

"I didn't know this site was here until Diane sent me a message. Well I can let the world know how special a person Neil Anthony Santoriello was to me and the world. The Army is always blessed with great leaders in every generation. I was privileged to serve with one of this times greatest leaders. He wasn't only a platoon leader he was my brother. People looked at us because we clashed so much they probably thought those two don't get alone at all.But all we did we did in love. He was taken from us way too young, but this I can say he will be waiting on us in heaven with a nice big Italian meal. Hey mama Diane I will be getting with you soon and we can share some smiles. My love and prayers to you all. SSG Ricky Garner (Predator 1 Golf) 4 life."
Ricky Garner of Fort Knox, Kentucky

"For what ever reason I was on the net today and something just told me to type in Neil's name.
Hello, I am 1SG Ruben Ochoa and I had both the honor and privilege of serving with 1LT Neil Santoriello as his company First Sergeant while deployed to Iraq. First of all, Neil was a person of honor and courage. He was a professional Soldier who always led his men no matter how tough the mission got (and there were some tough ones). For the entire length of our tour I kept journals of our entire deployment and I often found myself making entries of the day's activities about his platoon. Neil's platoon was always doing something. He had a hell of a platoon and the best crew a Platoon Leader could want. To his crew, you guys did well, to his gunner, SGT Garner, you are a true NCO and professional. Though I do not know his parents, I would like to thank them for raising such a powerful leader for he was an inspiration to us all. To Lisa, there are no words for me to describe how I sometimes feel. Neil was more than just one my platoon leaders, he was a friend. My heart goes out to you and your family. There are times when either Erykah or Ciara ask about you Lisa and we tell them you moved to PA, little minds can be so wondering. So from Ciara, Erykah, Brenda and myself, We love and miss you"
1SG Ruben G. Ochoa, Former Apache 7 of Fort Knox, KY

"Dear Lisa, and Mr. and Mrs. Santoriello,

I grieve with you in your loss of a great guy, whose memory you will hold and cherish for the rest of your life. A great life has gone out here on earth that will live on in your memories and the memories of great numbers of those who knew him.

I salute those who risked their life, and those who lost their life, in service to their country. You still cannot be comforted by the words of others, I doubt, but eventually you may be comforted by the words of us who also have similarly served our country and suffered the loss of family members and dear friends in past conflicts.

We salute our beloved dead. We throw them armsful of flowers to glorify their great sacrifice."
Louis Liljedahl of Adamstown, MD, USA

"To the family of:Neil Anthony Santoriello I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully, we will meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need prayer or need someone to talk to, please call or write my pastor: Rev. John Pearrell, Gateway Community Church, 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015. Your friend in Jesus Christ,"
Polly Ballew of Covington,Ga

"we will be keeping your families in our thoughts and prayers."
joyce Santoriello of kenilworth,nj,u.s.a.

"Lisa and Neil,
Neil had many roles during my time at Dickinson College, cadet, student, friend, Soldier, officer, teacher, and mentor, to name a few. Neil was a teacher and mentor, not just to younger cadets and students, but also to the ROTC cadre and the college faculty and staff, and me.
Not long after his commissioning, 2LT Santoriello looked at me and with a big smile he asked, “So, you still got that beret you can see the daylight through?” I smiled and nodded my head. Later that afternoon I took a long hard look at the Green Beret that I proudly wore at a rakish angle for at least a dozen years. It was shaped just right; it fit perfectly. It had traveled the world many times. NCOs are the standards bearers of the Army, but it took a cherry lieutenant to point out that my beret was threadbare. I bought a new one and saved the old one. I planned to hand the old one to Neil when he returned from Iraq. I never had the opportunity.
Lisa, it has been a little over a year since I received your email that read, “SGM Duane, please call me, I have something important to tell you.” I called as soon as I read the email. I knew Neil was due to come home soon, and I was expecting an invitation to Neil’s homecoming. Sadly, that is exactly what I got. I soon drove to Arlington to witness the interment of my friend. Neil sacrificed his life because the rights, liberties, and freedom of others meant more to him than his own life.
Lisa, when I told you that I am proud to have spent time in the company of heroes, I want you to know that that includes you. Neil made the “ultimate” sacrifice; your sacrifices are immeasurable. Your strength is a brilliant beacon of light to guide others. My life is richer because of both of you.
If we commissioned a general during my time at Dickinson College, it was Neil."
SGM RL Duane of Ft. Bragg, NC

"Lisa, Always remember! You are loved! I know it is very hard on you without Neil, but you have come a long way. You will always be in my heart. I wish, I could be there for you more.
My love always"
Karin(MOM) of J.C. KS

"My Dearest Neil, the love of my life:

It has now been a year. I think about you everyday and I often wonder what our life would be like. I just hope that I'm doing the right thing with my life now that you are not here to share it with me. Words cannot express how much I miss you, you were my life. Sometimes, I just don't know what I'm supposed to do without you.

I continue to spoil Diego and we still have all the toys you sent him from Iraq. In the end you won, I have finally allowed him on the bed!

I love you with all my heart and always will."
Lisa, your beloved wife of York, PA

"I have often thought of Neil and his family over the past year. Having Neil as a friend has helped to shape my life and make me the person I am today.

Losing him has broken my heart. Every time I hear his favorite song on the radio or hear someone tell Confucious jokes, or see soldiers returning to their families, or pow/mia stickers, or a million other things that remind me of him I feel a great loss.

I also feel lucky that I was special enough to have had the opportunity to know him. I pray that the Lord continues to be him and with his family. I am sorry that I never told him how important his friendship was to me.

He was the first to befriend me when I was alone and away from home. I often went to him for advice. He helped me through a lot of difficult times and effected changes in my life and future plans. I just hope that he esteemed my friendship at least half as much as I regard his.

There is so much more I feel I should add, but I believe those who knew him already know what a gift he was to the world. I thank him and his family for the great sacrifice they have made. Though I don't believe his death was right...nothing could be right about it...I know Neil believed in what he was doing with his whole heart."
Amy Lynn Hanners Flowers of Clarksville, TN

"I am Proud to say I served with Lt. Neil Santoriello in Iraq. I was actually his roomate in an old Iraqi airbase tower. I can remember like it was yesterday lying on our bunks talking about our families and when we were gonna get out of there and what would be the first thing we would do when we got home. He was such a great leader and a wonderful man, and not a day goes by that I don't think of him and the sacrifice he gave.Thank you Neil and god be with you. my deepest prayers are with his wife and family."
SFC Dennis Truman of Ft. Knox, Ky

"To the family and friends who have lost their loved one. I'm the uncle of Sgt Nicholas A. Tomko who lost his life in Iraq 11-9-03. I am also the founder of the W.Pa Families of Fallen Heroes Foundation. I want to express our deepest feelings to your family and friends. We know your feelings and we will always be there for your family and friends. We can't express our feelings any deeper that we know what it feels like. GOD BLESS"
Bill Tomko of Harrisville Pa

"Neil, Diane, Am, Lisa:
I love you"
Rachel of Murrysville, PA

"Mr. and Mrs. Santoriello,
Thanks for raising such a great kid. He was an incredible guy when we were in high school. No doubt, he was even better as he grew older."
Barrett of Penn Hills, PA

"Dear Lisa,

I still think about Neil's death often. I only knew him for a few months, but I remember his infectious smile and love for his country, the Army, and his new puppy-- Diego. I miss you as my next door neighbor, friend, and confidant. I remember our chats comparing our husbands' stories of Iraq and how they always wanted to be in the thick of things. Neil was truly doing what he loved. God Bless, you, Lisa and take care. Your friend,"
Shauna of Hohenfels, Germany

"To Neil and Diane,

Our heart aches for both of you. We think of our little boys arm in arm - such gentle friends.

How could we know then, that Neil would become such a brave soldier and leader among men. Yet, the gentle spirit of that young boy Neil surely resides today within all the hearts of the many people he touched. He certainly will be a part of us forever.

Your boundless love will heal the pain you feel."
Earl and Amy of Wexford, PA

"I am a Neil Anthony and came across this site searching for my name. I was a british Roayal Marine and I have 2 close family members serving there now in the same unit. Our thoughts are with you at this time and we are with you as brothers all the way!!!"
Neil F of Uk

"We are so sorry for your loss. We lost Army Spc.Joshua Justice Henry on 9-20-04. This was the hardest day of our lives. We honor these guys as our Heroes and hope no one else has to go through with what we are all dealing with. Rest in peace Neil, and thank you for serving your country to the fullest"
Henry family of Vandergrift , PA

"i have made arrangements with applebees to dedicate a portion of their wall for carlisle, pa fallen heroes (3 of them within the last 10 months)-----would like to include your son since he did reside in carlisle---please have family member email me so i can give particulars"
lawrence l. verdekal of carlisle, pa

"I wish I knew what I could say to Lisa at a time like this. Neil was a wonderful person and a "soul mate" for my daughter. You are too young to go thru such sorrow. If you need anything, you have my love and support"
Linda of Mt Laurel, NJ

"What to say? Neil was a leader, mentor, friend and brother to me. I would not be the leader I am today nor have the bars on my collar if it weren't for him. His consistent friendship, guidance and dedication was always an inspiration. I can only know and hear of the great things he did for his soldiers; they were blessed to be led by him. He is a shining example to us all of how to live, loving what you do and all those around you. His spirit remains in us and I will ensure all I meet know of him. God be with you Neil. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. Charlie Mike."
1stLt Julie Hostrander of USMC, Parris Island, SC

"To the family of Neil:
May it bring you comfort to know that the country is mourning with you. I did not know Neil, but we are connected in that a member of my family was killed the same day in Iraq. My cousin, Nick, who was also from PA was laid to rest a week ago. The overwhelming feeling of deep saddness is sometimes more than can be handled. Just know that others feel your same pain and I am praying for God to help you through this difficult time!

"A luminous light remains where a beautiful soul has passed"
-Antoine Boveua"
Alice Rahn of Ickesburg, PA USA

"Neil was a good friend to me during college where we were in the ROTC program together. Neil was a shining example of everything that a soldier and a friend should be; loyal, honest, dependable, hard working, and funny. He had a big and generous heart. The last time I saw Neil I think he had just recently met his future wife. I had dinner with them (Italian food, of course!!) and I could tell how happy she made him. I remember thinking how glad I was to see that a good guy like Neil had found someone who made him so happy.

The loss of Neil saddens me not only as a friend, but also as a fellow soldier. I know without a doubt that Neil was a soldier's soldier and that the troops in his care could not have asked for a better leader.

It was an honor for me to know Neil. He will always be a hero to me. No words can express my saddness for his family. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers."
CPT Hazel Creamer of Darmstadt, Germany

"I laid a rose on 1st Lt. Santoriello’s grave on Wednesday. I did not know him but he will forever be linked with one of my very good friends, Capt. Michael Tarlavsky. Mike was killed in Iraq the day before Neil and buried next to him in Arlington a day after. I went the day after Mike’s funeral to spend some time alone saying my good-byes when I noticed Neil’s name on a marker next to Mike’s. Both men are heroes. They sacrificed their lives for the American ideal of freedom. Their families and friends know all too well that “freedom is not free.” It is guarded and protected by brave men and women such as Mike and Neil. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for both men nor for the grief at loosing them. The entries below show that in life, Neil was a good man and soldier as was Mike. It is fitting that they are resting together. Mike and Neil also shared a Boy Scout legacy. Mike was an Eagle Scout and many of his friends from the Scouts were present at his funeral and a few acted as honorary pallbearers. My heart and prayers go out to Neil’s family and his wife. May you feel the comforting arms of God holding you and supporting you through these rough times. May both of their deaths bring to all who knew them a greater appreciation of life. Our lives are a gift. Live it to the fullest."
Jamie Hasty of Waialua, Hawaii

Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Neil, will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"One week. Seven days. One hundred sixty-eight hours. That is how much time has passed since hearing the tragic news that one of the finest human beings on the planet had died in a war far away. Tragic deaths occur every day. They are the result of violent criminal acts, automobile accidents, and unexplained medical conditions. Men and women who choose to lead a life of serving others, such as, police officers, fire fighters, and doctors and nurses sometimes become victims themselves. There have even been teachers who die at the hands of very troubled kids. None of it makes any sense to people accustomed to logic. Intellectuals write books trying to explain “why bad things happen to good people”. And we turn to God asking to be comforted when the pain is the sharpest.

Neil did not die in vain. Neil loved his family, his country and the world. He was working to ensure that his family and friends could be a little bit safer in this great country that some want to destroy but most simply take for granted. We all now have a debt of gratitude that we can never repay.

May Neil’s wife, parents, sister, and friends feel the warmth of God’s heavenly embrace during this tragic time. May the others who served with him never forget that Neil placed their safety over and above his own. Neil’s courage and concern for the safety of his platoon have resulted in his ultimate sacrifice. His leadership and greatness will be missed but not forgotten."
Kevin Iachini of Penn Hills, PA / US

"I did not have the pleasure of knowing Neil. I met him once during a scout meeting in the year my son first joined Troop 139. I recall only that he was pleasant, confident and humble. He carried himself as a true Boy Scout and I believed that he set a good example for the younger scouts. Neil, thank you for being brave and true and a good man. Thank you for serving our country so gallantly and with such courage. You are a credit to your family, friends and to Troop 139. May God bless the Santoriello family with His peace and comfort beyond measure."
Glenn Armocida of Oakmont, Pennsylvania

"I knew Niel from meeting him at Scouting events when my kids were in Cubs. Worked with him in later years at CTE events. I always enjoyed our times together and will miss him dearly. My thoughts and prayers will be with you."
Mike Lipay of Plum, Pa.

"i was watching tv and seen his picture i was in complete shock. myself and neil both went through all 12 years of school from shenandoah to the penn hills high school, we werent close friends but good friends and i remember him very good, he will be missed dearly. with a bother in iraq i cant even image the hurt. with my deapest regrets.matthew slaugenhaupt."
matthew slaugenhaupt of verona ,pa united states

"To the family of Neil A. Santoriello:
We express our deepest sympathy in your time of pain. Our family recently loss one of our family members, Lance Cprl.Larry Wells. They are true American Heros and will never be forgotten."
The Crochet family of of Chauvin, LA

"I had the pleasure of being one of Neil's Scouting leaders. From a young age he was all scouting stands for. Helpful, Courteous and Kind. My son Jason was blessed to have had Neil as a mentor and friend. I feel sure his life is more enriched because of Neil. My sincere sympathy goes to Diane, Neil,Sr., and Amy. My thoughts and prayers are with you all."
Jeannette Stecik of Verona, Pa (troop 139)

"Neil and I attended Dickinson College and received our commissions together. For three years we lived under the same roof of the ROTC house. He is not just my friend, but my brother. His presence will be missed, but his spirit will live on in those he touched. My prayers will be with his family."
1LT Matthew "Smitty" Smith of Fot Hood, TX

"Please forgive my loss of words at this point; when I've them better collected, I'll share more. So many loved Neil, his quiet optimism instilled faith in all those around him. His incredible sense of duty and loyalty, to friends, loved ones and to his country endeared him to all who knew him. I had the distinct honor and pleasure of calling him a friend for all but a few years of my life. He is sorely missed and will remain always in my heart. Sincerest condolences and much love to Mr & Mrs S and Amy."
Kristen Dering of Pittsburgh, PA

"Thank you brave soldier for sacrificingn your today for my children's safer tomorrow. You have our utmost respect and gratitude. May God provide your family with comfort in their time of sorrow. May you forever rest in Heavenly peace. Neither you nor your sacrifice will be forgotten. For the family/friends: May time provide happy loving memories in place of present sorrows. Look to the sky for in the infinite meadows of Heaven the bright shining stars bloom....the forget-me-nots of angels. God bless you and thank you."
a grateful family in Phoenix, AZ

"Neil was best friends with 2 very close friends of mine who are also soldiers in the US Army. To be friends with them he must've been a great friend and soldier as I'm sure he was. I admire this young man for the sacrifice he was willing to make for his country and those of us living in it. He was doing what he thought was right and died valiantly. He will be greatly missed by all and is a hero to all of us. God's speed Neil.

Sincerely, Adam Freeborough and Heather Peters"
Adam Freeborough of Erie, PA

"Neil and I went to College and were commissioned together. He was the best of what the Army and this country had to offer. He was a patriot and more importantly a great friend. There are no words to express the sadness I feel for his wife and family. May God bless his family and friends and may we all live lives worthy of his sacrifice."
1LT Ryan Taylor of Ft. Drum NY

"I went to school with Neil and had some political science courses with him. While all U.S. armed forces deaths are tragedies, I take pride in their services and Neil's service to the United States. My thoughts are with Neil's wife, Lisa, and family."
Miles Hunt of Portland, ME/USA

"Lieutenant Santoriello, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"To Neil's Family and Friends:

On behalf of the Blanco-Caldas family, we send our sincerest condolences. We share the same loss ... the same pain. Our prayers are with you in this most difficult time and we thank you for your soldier's bravery and sacrifice.


The Family of Capt. Ernesto M. Blanco-Caldas, 82nd Airborne
KIA Iraq 12/28/2003.
Gloria Caldas (The Big Ern's Mom) of San Antonio, TX

"To the family of Neil Santoriello;

Our sincerest condolences for your loss. Our family has also suffered the loss of a precious life in this battle for freedom. Neil is a true American hero and will always be remembered for his bravery and sacrifice he gave to his country. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time."
The McClain family---azquail@att.net of Tucson, AZ

"To Neil's Family:
There are no words to express the sorrow we feel for your loss. May God bless you and help you through this time."
Dan and Meg Manninen of San Antonio, Texas

"Thank you Neil Santoriello, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"To the family and friends of 1st Lt. Neil Santoriello:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Neil for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of 1st Lt. Neil Santoriello:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Neil, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on