LeRoy DeRonde III

PFC LeRoy DeRonde III—November 2012 Shipment Honoree

From his sister

LeRoy DeRonde
LeRoy DeRonde

Leroy was a great brother and my family and I miss him everyday. He had such a big heart and could always make us laugh.

Army Pfc. LeRoy DeRonde III was coming into his own, distancing himself from a hard-luck childhood and stepping up to take care of his family.

Leroy grew up in Jersey City, NJ. Leroy was the middle child of three, leaving behind his younger brother Harold, 18, and older sister Jennifer, 33.

When Leroy’s mother passed away from cancer in 2002, his cousin Owen and fiancé became his legal guardian. Leroy was 16 at the time. “At 20, it clicked for him. He would have to put the family on his shoulders to survive,” said Owen, adding that was when he began to seriously consider the military.

Leroy briefly attended Dickinson and Lincoln High Schools. After getting his GED and taking a few college credit courses, PFC DeRonde left home for basic training in January 2011.

In three months’ time he was one of five basic training graduates to be promoted to E-2 (private) and was awarded the 1st Battalion 48th Infantry Regiment Order of the Dragon Soldiers. DeRonde was then sent to be stationed in Fort Bliss, Texas. He was assigned to the 125th Brigade Support Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.

In 2012 Army Pfc. LeRoy DeRonde III was sent to Afghanistan. In support of Operation Enduring Freedom Leroy and another fellow Soldier were attacked and killed by enemy forces in the Chak-E Warkdak District, on 27 May 2012.

“Army Pfc. LeRoy DeRonde III paid the ultimate price defending the United States of America and the principles which our country was founded,” said Healy the Governor of New Jersey. “Losing such a young life is a terrible tragedy and during this difficult time, I extend my deepest condolences to his family and friends. As we mourn with them, I hope they find comfort in knowing Army Pfc. DeRonde died a hero fighting for his country.”

Governor Healy signed an Executive Order that all flags be flown half-staff in honor of PFC DeRonde.

PFC LeRoy DeRonde III will be buried at the cemetery’s 9/11 Veterans Memorial section with full military honors.

Articles courtesy of: Jersey City Independent, CBS local, and bobcat.ws

U.S. Army soldier from Jersey City killed in Afghanistan

by Julia, Terruso and Richard Khavkine-The Star-Ledger
PFC LeRoy DeRonde II
PFC LeRoy DeRonde III

The 22-year-old Jersey City man saw the military as a way to do that, his family said, in a plan that began to form eight years ago when his mother, Elizabeth, died of cancer. Her absence shook the family’s foundation and then profoundly galvanized her eldest son.

“He realized he was going to put the family on his shoulders. The military was his calling to do that financially,” DeRonde’s cousin, Jason Owen, said last night outside the soldier’s family’s apartment on West Side Avenue. “From the time he decided that it was full steam ahead.”

But DeRonde was one of two soldiers killed on May 27 when their unit was attacked in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said today. DeRonde, assigned to the 125th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss Texas, died in the Wardak District in central Afghanistan.

DeRonde is at least the 44th service member with ties to New Jersey to be killed in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001. An additional 102 service members from New Jersey have died in Iraq since 2003.

“His life didn’t take hold until he was 22,” said Owen, who noted DeRonde sent monthly checks home. “He was really taking the reins, he was ascending. The real tragedy here is from an upbringing that wasn’t so good he was working … to help his family and to better himself.”

DeRonde was born and raised in the city’s Bergen neighborhood. As a child, he kept mostly to himself.

His father, Leroy DeRonde Jr., said he loved playing PlayStation 3 with his brother, Harold, who is now 17.

“The two were inseparable,” DeRonde’s father said. He added that since his son’s deployment a year ago, they would talk using the online video chat service Skype.

 photo of Leroy DeRonde III on his Facebook page.
photo of Leroy DeRonde III on his Facebook page.

“If he wasn’t on, my hands would shake,” he said. “It’s a terrible thing.”

Through the years, and in DeRonde’s short life, the tight-knit family has known both the fear of loss and tragedy.

At 5, Harold was diagnosed with leukemia and given three weeks to live. The family went to Disney World on a Make-A-Wish vacation. It was the only real vacation they ever took together, Leroy DeRonde Jr. said. By luck, Harold survived.

But when their mother died, DeRonde made a plan that required groundwork. He got his GED and then 15 college credits, both of which were required before he could join the Army, which he did in January 2011.

DeRonde, his family said, was kind of person who, when he figured out where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do, nothing could stop him.

After basic training, DeRonde’s family saw him off at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. — as one of a handful of graduates to have been immediately promoted to a Private E2.

“He’d been so quiet, but he knew everyone, they knew his name,” his half-sister, Jennifer Owen, said. “In six months, he really came out of his shell.”

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