---- — DERRY — A cause of death has not been determined for U.S. Army Ranger 1st Lt. Paul M. DeMeo, 23, of Derry, who died unexpectedly May 14 while stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.
DeMeo was serving as a rifle platoon leader for Company B, 2nd Battalion, 505th Infantry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
His parents, Paul and Lucienne DeMeo, have asked for privacy.
His commander, Lt. Col. J.C. White, called DeMeo a “charismatic” leader who “cared deeply” for his fellow soldiers and left a lasting impression on them.
His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Air Assault Badge, the Parachutist Badge and the Ranger Tab.
A 2007 graduate of Pinkerton Academy, DeMeo participated in the school’s Junior Air Force JROTC program for four years, commanding the cadet corps during his senior year.
With the help of the AFJROTC cadre led by Lt. Col. Howie Steadman, he became more aware of the duties and responsibilities that go along with different military ranks.
“He got a small taste of what it meant to be an enlisted person and found that he wanted to take on the added challenges required of an officer,” his father Paul said.
Pinkerton observed a moment of silence in DeMeo’s memory this week and lowered flags to half-staff.
DeMeo was the first person from the school’s program to attend a U.S. military academy, in this case West Point, where he graduated in 2011. He joined the 2nd/505th in August 2012.
He was the oldest of four siblings. His twin brothers, Nathen and Pascal DeMeo, graduate this year from West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy respectively. They, too, graduated from Pinkerton Academy.
Their sister Lee is a senior pre-med student at Syracuse University.
All three brothers attended military academies on full scholarships.
“Paul was a charming person, who always looked out for his brothers and sisters,” his mother Lucienne said. “As an Army officer, Paul looked out for his troops as if they were family. He was humble and always driven to do better. He had the most beautiful smile.”
Pinkerton JROTC’s Chief Charles Porter said Paul DeMeo was a true leader.
“He loved being around the other cadets,” Porter said.
Porter remembered a senior class trip the students took to West Point.
“He was really impressed with West Point,” Porter said. “He fell in love with it.”
DeMeo was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant upon his graduation from West Point in May 2011, Porter said.
“He was a very dedicated student and JROTC member,” he said. “This is a big loss.”
Pinkerton Headmaster Mary Anderson said it’s always difficult to lose a former student so young.
“Paul achieved so much in his young life at Pinkerton, West Point and in the military,” Anderson said. “His death is so sad, so tragic. Our community has lost a truly remarkable man.”
Calling hours for DeMeo are set for May 28 from 4 to 8 p.m. in the Peabody Funeral Homes and Crematorium, 15 Birch St., Derry. A Liturgy of Christian Burial will be celebrated on May 29 at 10 a.m. at St. Thomas Aquinas, 3 Moody St., Derry.
Burial will follow in the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen, N.H.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Junior ROTC Program, Pinkerton Academy, 5 Pinkerton St., Derry, 03038.