Fallen Warrior: Sgt. Joseph Bongiorni III

  • Published
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

For our fallen warrior commemoration, we remember U.S. Army Sgt. Joseph Bongiorni III, 14th Quartermaster Detachment water treatment specialist.

Bongiorni was born in Hickory, Pennsylvania where he was an athlete and musician at Fort Cherry High School. He was known for playing in the first half of his school’s football game, joining the marching band for the half-time performance, then rejoining the football team for the second half of the game.

Bongiorni enlisted in the Pennsylvania National Guard before his enrollment at West Virginia University, majoring in engineering, and being active in the school's ROTC program.

On Feb. 19, 1991, Bongiorni deployed to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia with 35 other personnel from the Army Reserve Command in support of Operation Desert Storm. The unit was quartered in a warehouse that had been converted to a temporary barracks.

At 8:40 p.m. on Feb. 25, parts of an Iraqi Al Hussein missile destroyed the barracks housing members from the 14th Quartermaster Detachment. The Patriot Air Defense System initially detected the incoming missile but lost track of it.

This was the single most devastating attack on U.S. forces during the war, killing 28 soldiers and leaving 99 injured. The 14th Quartermaster Detachment lost 13 soldiers, including Bongiorni and suffered 43 wounded.

Editor's note: The Fallen Warrior series highlights Fallen Warriors who exemplify our core values and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Take a moment to honor this week’s hero.