Neil Anthony Santoriello – First Lieutenant, United States Army

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense

No. 778-04
Aug 15, 2004

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

First Lieutenant Neil Anthony Santoriello, 24, of Verona, Pennsylvania, died August 13, 2004, in Khalidiyah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his mounted reconnaissance patrol vehicle.  Santoriello was assigned to 1st Battalion, 34th Armor, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas.

The incident is under investigation.

 From contemporary press reports:
Dickinson grad killed in Iraq
By Karla Browne, August 18, 2004


Lt. Neil Santoriello, left, receives an award from Lieutenant Colonel Mark N. 
Mazarella, former director of the college's ROTC program, in this 
undated photo from Dickinson Colleg

A 2002 Dickinson College graduate and former Verona resident was killed Friday in Iraq.

First Lieutenant Neil Anthony Santoriello Jr., 24, died after an improvised explosive device detonated near his reconnaissance patrol vehicle in Khalidiyah.

Stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, Santoriello was an armor officer and tank commander in the Army's 1st Infantry Division.

Santoriello was due to return to Fort Riley next month after serving in Iraq since September, 2003.

His wife, Lisa Santone Santoriello, a 2001 Dickinson graduate, is living at Fort Riley, Dickinson College officials say on the college website.

While at Dickinson, Santoriello majored in political science and was a member of the ROTC program.

Colonel Mark Mazarella, ROTC commanding officer, remembers Santoriello as a stellar cadet and great person who was fulfilling a dream he had since the fifth grade by serving as a commissioned officer in the Army, Dickinson College officials say.

In addition to his wife, Santoriello is survived by his parents, Neil and Diane Santoriello of Verona.

Army officials say Santoriello's body has arrived in Dover, Delaware, but funeral arrangements are incomplete at Soxman Funeral Home in Penn Hills. Burial is planned in Arlington National Cemetery.

Dickinson officials plan an on-campus memorial service this fall for the college community.

At that time Santoriello's name will be added to the wall of Old West where those of others who died while serving in the Armed Forces are listed.

Details of the Carlisle service will be posted on the college's alumni web page as they become available.

Two Pennsylvania soldiers live different lives, die similar deaths in Iraq
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
By Steve Levin, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

An Army officer and a Marine noncom, married and single, an Eagle Scout and a football player.

First Lieutenant Neil Anthony Santoriello and Lance Corporal Nicholas Morrison had little in common except for being born in Pennsylvania and dying Friday in the same region of Iraq.

And the routes that Santoriello, 24, of Penn Hills, and Morrison, 23, of Carlisle, took to Iraq were as different as their reasons for joining the military. The former dreamed since fifth grade of being in the Army; the latter decided on the Marine Corps after the local grocery store where he was employed closed.

Santoriello and Morrison were the latest of the 937 Americans killed through yesterday morning during the course of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Santoriello was the 39th from Fort Riley to die and the first from Penn Hills; Morrison the 42nd from Camp Lejeune, N.C., and the second from Carlisle. Fifty-one Pennsylvanians have died during the war.

Santoriello, a platoon leader for Company A, 1st Battalion, 34th Armor, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, died when an improvised explosive device detonated near his mounted reconnaissance patrol vehicle near Khalidiyah in Al Anbar province in western Iraq. Morrison, an anti-tank missile man with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, was killed during “hostile action” in the same province.

Matt Swanger, Morrison's best friend from Carlisle, could have been referring to both men when he said, “It just seems like it's unfair. He was so young. It just doesn't seem like it was his time.”

Everyone knew Santoriello was interested in a military life. John Hackett, one of Santoriello's scoutmasters in Boy Scout Troop 139 in Penn Hills and Verona, said other boys were interested in World War II or Gettysburg.

“Neil wanted to be an officer,” Hackett said. “There's a difference between being a leader and a boss.

“If there was a job to be done, Neil would get started with it and everyone else would blend in. Neil was a leader.”

During high school, Santoriello worked two summers in the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Swissvale. Doyle attended the banquet where Santoriello was named Eagle Scout, scouting's highest award.

“I'm going to look forward to seeing what Neil does in the future,” Hackett said to Doyle at the time, “because one of these days he's going to have [your] job.” 

Santoriello joined the Army ROTC when he entered Dickinson College after graduating from Penn Hills High School. He was one of nine ROTC applicants selected from 150 applicants for $20,000 annual tuition scholarships at the school.

A political science major, he quickly assumed leadership roles in the Army ROTC, being named executive officer, or second in command of the cadets.

“That's the toughest job because you've got to lead your peers and enforce what the commander wants done,” said Lieutenant Colonel Mark N. Mazarella, former director of Army ROTC at the school. “You could count on him to get the job done.”

Santoriello was commissioned in the Army in June 2002 after graduation. He had been in Iraq since September. He leaves behind a wife.

It's possible that during Santoriello's four years at Dickinson College, he met Morrison. The college is located in Carlisle, and Morrison, a 2000 graduate of nearby Big Spring High School, spent time with his friends at the mall.

But Morrison wasn't set on a military career. In high school he was an outside linebacker for the Big Spring Bulldogs. Industrious and hard-working, he took a part-time job as a stocker at Carlisle's Food Lion store. Within a few years, he had advanced to assistant manager.

“He got things done,” said Swanger, 22, who has known Morrison since the pair played pick-up basketball and touch football in middle school.

“It was something admirable for someone out of high school. He was making more money than me and I had just graduated from college.”

While Morrison and Swanger had talked about joining the Marines during high school, it wasn't until the Food Lion closed in early 2003 that Morrison decided to enlist. He hoped to parlay his service into a career as a Pennsylvania state trooper.

He shipped to boot camp in April 2003. Morrison wasn't big but he was quick and agile, and Swanger said that when his friend returned home from boot camp he was filled out with muscles.

On those visits, Morrison took the impetus to gather his high school friends together.

“He was like the glue that kept everyone together,” Swanger said.

Morrison kept in touch with his family and friends via e-mail from Iraq. Swanger said his friend complained about the food and heat, and often made light of the volatile situation he lived in.

“I remember I would ask him how things are,” Swanger said. “He let me know that he was in a safe area. He said he was outside of Falluja and it was safe there.

“But he said every time they went into the town they'd get fired on.”

Morrison's job was to man a TOW missile mounted on a Humvee. He was riding with four other Marines on Friday when he was killed.

“He was doing something he wanted to do,” Swanger said. “I didn't want him to leave [for Iraq]. I told him that. He was like, ‘It's something I want to do.' “

photo posted on

Funeral arrangements have been announced for First Lieutenant Neil Santoriello, 24, of Penn Hills, killed August 13, 2004, by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

After a memorial service today in Fort Reilly, Kansas, the body will be returned to Penn Hills this weekend, where calling hours will be from noon to 9 p.m. Sunday at the Soxman Funeral Home on Saltsburg Road.

A memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Monday in Zion Lutheran Church, Frankstown Road. Burial will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

Officials with Boy Scout Troop 139 in Penn Hills have asked Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato to name the Boyce Park Archery Range in Santoriello's memory. Refurbishing the range was his Eagle Scout project.

Posted on Sun, Aug. 22, 2004
Funeral to be Monday for Fort Riley, Kan., soldier killed in Iraq

VERONA, Pa. – A funeral service will be held Monday for a 24-year-old soldier killed in Khalidiya, Iraq.

The service for Army 1st Lt. Neil Anthony Santoriello Jr., of Verona, is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Zion Lutheran Church in Penn Hills. He will be buried Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery, officials said.

Santoriello was killed Aug. 13 when an explosive device detonated near his patrol vehicle, the Department of Defense said. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 34th Armor, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan.

Santoriello was a 1998 graduate of Penn Hills High School and a 2002 graduate from Dickinson College.


  • 1LT   US ARMY
  • VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 05/18/2002 – 08/13/2004
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 09/19/1979
  • DATE OF DEATH: 08/13/2004
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 08/24/2004





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