Funeral services will take place Friday, July 7, 2006 at 11:00 a.m. at Green Valley Mortuary & Cemetery, 18751 S. La Canada, Green Valley, Arizona 85622. Burial with full distinguished military honors at Arlington National Cemetery will follow at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, Colonel Mercurios family suggests that friends and relatives may honor his memory by making contributions to the “Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund, 22570 Markey Court, Suite 240, Dulles, Virginia 20166, (703)444-7940, an education scholarship fund for children of deceased U.S soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Anthony Thomas Mercurio was born April 18, 1934 in West Bend Wisconsin, the last of four children of Vincent A. Mercurio and Ceil “Mickey” Miller. At the age of 14, he joined the U.S. Army in 1947, advancing steadily through the non-commissioned officer ranks to the rank of Sergeant, then awarded a direct commission as a Second Lieutenant while in Japan in 1957.
He advanced through the ranks as a Commissioned Officer, and while serving in Vietnam in 1967 as a Major in the 101st Airborne Division “Screaming Eagles”, the nation's elite paratrooper division, was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel before retiring while stationed in Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas with full military honors after more than 25 years of dedicated service to his country.
His numerous decorations include Army Meritorious Unit Commendation, Army Presidential Unit Citation awarded by the President of the United States, the Purple Heart for serious injury while in combat in Vietnam, and one of the highest honors awarded in the military, the Bronze Star with Valor for heroic and meritorious achievement in connection with military operations against a dangerous armed enemy and outstanding performance in combat.
Following his retirement from the U.S. Army, he was involved in politics, and achievements of note include a national appointment by President Ronald Reagan , the 40th President of the United States, to the Presidents Peace Corps Advisory Council, an appointment by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield to the Board of Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, Deputy State Chairman, recommendation for White House Fellowship, Republican Party of Texas, Delegate to the Republican State Convention 1976 – 1990, National Delegate to every Republican National Convention 1976 – 1988, former founding member of Citizens for Reagan, sustaining member Republican National Committee, member of the American Security Council, El Paso County Vice Chairman for Governor Reagan 1975, El Paso County Vice Chairman of the Reagan for President Committee 1976, El Paso County Chairman for Bill Clements for Governor, Appointed by Governor Bill Clements as Governors Coordinator for West Texas 1978, Congressional District Chairman of Reagan for President Committee 1980, Member of Exploratory Committee – Bush for President 1986, Congressional District Chairman – Bush for President 1988 and Congressional District Chairman – Bush-Quayle 1988. He was also a founding partner and Chief Operating Officer of Diversified Technical Services, Inc. (DTSI) and National Dynamics, Inc., in El Paso, Texas.
Survivors include his loving wife of nearly 53 years, Lisa Mercurio, daughter Renee Mercurio Rochford (husband Tim), Casa Grande, Arizona., sons Anthony Guy Mercurio (wife Frankie), Dallas, Texas, and Kevin Thomas Mercurio (wife Kevie), Fort Worth, Texas, grandchildren Ashley Montero, Tim Rochford, Jr., Anthony Thomas Mercurio III, Mimmi Mercurio, Avery Hardin Mercurio and great grandchild Medley Montero, brother Gus Mercurio and sister Geri Bauer, many nieces and nephews and friends.
28 August 2006
Courtsy of the El Paso Times
A former El Paso resident who advised President Ronald Reagan and served his country with honor in the Vietnam War has died and will be buried Friday in Arlington National Cemetery.
Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Thomas Mercurio, 72, died July 2, 2006, and a funeral service was held in Green Valley, Ariz. Family and friends said he died from complications related to exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange, which was used during the Vietnam War.
“He once (said) ‘They told us it wouldn't hurt us, it got all over you, in your food, everywhere, but it wouldn't hurt us. The next day the jungle was gone …,'” said his son, Kevin Mercurio.
But Anthony Mercurio wasn't bitter or angry about his service, said longtime friend Elio Castañuela.
“He said, ‘I would never, ever think of suing the Army. They gave me a full-time job. They clothed me. They gave me three square meals a day. They made me the man I am,'” Castañuela said. “Tony loved the Army until the day he passed away.”
Anthony Mercurio joined the Army in 1947 at age 14, and achieved the rank of Second Lieutenant in 1957 while serving in Japan. Castañuela said Mercurio used the testimony of the family priest, who regularly confused him with his older brother, to convince the recruiter he was old enough to join.
It was the Army's gain.
He received a Bronze Star for Valor in the Vietnam War for his actions in the Battle of Dak To, where Agent Orange was used to defoliated the jungles to expose enemy movements. The battle occurred in November 1967, just before the start of the Tet Offensive when the North Vietnamese regular army launched a series of attacks against a string of isolated U.S. garrisons.
The Battle of Dak To, one of the largest engagements of the war with 4,500 U.S. soldiers facing off against 6,000 North Vietnamese troops, lasted for 22 days in the central highlands of Vietnam where soldiers often engaged in hand-to-hand combat. After the dust settled, U.S. forces counted 285 dead and 985 wounded.
Mercurio also was awarded a Purple Heart after he fell 60 feet, breaking his ankles and his back, when a bridge he was on was blown up in an enemy attack.
While serving in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division, “The Screaming Eagles,” he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He retired from Fort Bliss at that rank after more than 25 years of service.
As a civilian, he entered politics, heading up grass-roots organizations in El Paso to support Republican candidates including Reagan, former President Bush and former Texas Governor Bill Clements. After winning the presidency, Reagan appointed Mercurio to the President's Peace Corps Advisory Council. Donald Rumsfeld, Reagan's secretary of defense at the time, appointed Mercurio to the Board of Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute.
Castañuela said he met Mercurio through business contacts and instantly liked him. He hired Mercurio in his El Paso business, Diversified Technology Services, a software development and computer network management company. Mercurio, who was a senior executive vice president, was hired for his ability to relate to people and the credibility he gave the firm when working with the Defense Department and military customers, Castañuela said.
“Tony was just a great, great guy,” he said. “He was a very strong individual. He knew how to handle people, both in terms of talking strongly to them and in terms of giving them praise.”
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard