KIA: August 7, 21010 in Helmand province, Afghanistan
A New Yorker by birth, Gammone moved to Tennessee with his family when he was 2 years old. Private First Class Gammone was born in Mineola, New York. He graduated from Eagleville High School in 2008. He was an original member of the Eagleville High School marching band and played trombone, a member of JROTC for 4 years, the Raider Rifle Team, and the Drill/Color Guard. Vincent was a parishioner at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church. Gammone would have turned 20 on August 10th, according to his fiancée, Jessica West.
When terrorists hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, West remembered Gammone became infuriated and his passion to join the military became stronger. Gammone enlisted in the Marine Corps in September, 2008.
Gammone and fellow Marine Lance Corporal Cornelius were killed when a detainee escaped from a room at an Afghan-controlled detention center, obtained a rifle and opened fire on Marines and Afghan security forces, according to a Marine spokesman.“We were told that Vincent was one of the first to go to the aid of another Marine who had been wounded,” West said.
“His mom has been in shock,” West said. “She cried a little and is trying to stay strong. Vincent was very special to his mom and his grandmother.”
Gammone’s father, Vincent Gammone II, who suffers from multiple sclerosis on learning of his son’s death “didn’t believe it was his son” at first. “Yesterday it finally hit him.”
Neighbor Margaret Felts said residents were shocked by Gammone’s death. “You hear about it on the news, but everything is very abstract,” Felts said. “It happened to somebody else and you don’t ever think of it hitting that close to home. “
Felts’ daughter, Krista, Gammone’s lifelong friend explained “I grew up with Vincent. I remember when we were in school … if you didn’t have a friend, he was the one that would run up to you and be your friend and talk to you even if everyone else was ignoring you.”
Eagleville High School, has flown its flag at half-staff since educators there learned of his death. West recalled that one of Gammone’s “big passions” was for band, which he participated in throughout his high school career.
The Eagleville High School band under the direction of Kelly Medford, plans to honor Gammone throughout its half-time shows this fall.
Gammone had aspirations to join the Navy and to become a military officer once his contract with the Marines expired. His ultimate goal, however, was to become a police officer and raise a family with West.
“I’ll remember his kind heart,” added West. “He was very forgiving and very loving. I’ll remember his love and passion for band and the Marine Corps, and his love for me, his family and everyone he met.”
PFC Hodgetts spoke the following words during a Memorial Service held in Afghanistan.
Good afternoon gentlemen,
It’s hard to understand someone without knowing and experiencing them first hand.
I tried for hours to think of a way to explain the kind of man Vinny was. I mean, how do you write down things like when he lent me his car on a 72 when he went home and I stayed at the barracks just so I wouldn’t get bored? Or how every weekend he came and woke me up so I wouldn’t be late to check-in while on restriction. I remember when we first hit the fleet how they gave us the nickname of Timon and Pumba and how we argued constantly over which one of us was Pumba.
After meeting his mom and grandma it became very easy to see where he got his golden heart. But the very best thing about him was how resilient he was. No matter how often times got hard (which happened a lot for me and him ) he always managed to keep his head high and make the best of everything. I can think of a million situations where he was time and time again putting his fellow Marines-buddies and his brothers above himself.
I pray to God that he knows how much he really did mean to many of us. I feel honored and privileged to have gotten to know him. ~ PFC Hodgetts