Robert J. Chiomento II – Staff Sergeant, United States Army

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
July 20, 2006

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

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

Staff Sergeant Robert J. Chiomento II, 34, of Fort Dix, New Jersey, died on July 17, 2006, in Khwaya Ahmad, Afghanistan, when his patrol encountered enemy forces using rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.  Chiomento was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk, Louisiana.

Staff Sergeant Robert J. Chiomento II watched as, one by one, his fellow soldiers went to war.

The 34-year-old South Jersey native, based at Fort Polk, Louisiana, had been attached to a unit that wouldn't deploy any time soon, and he didn't like remaining behind as his friends and comrades faced the perils of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Chiomento, family members said, did something about it, seeking a transfer to an infantry unit headed to a hot spot. He arrived in southern Afghanistan in March. On Monday, he died there, killed in a rocket and mortar attack launched by insurgents.

“I would trade a million anythings for him to be back here, but I'm proud of what he did, and his children will grow up knowing what he did, and they'll be proud of him, too,” Chiomento's wife, Staci Chiomento, said yesterday from the couple's home at Fort Polk. “He was proud to be a soldier, a father, a husband, an American.”

Chiomento was one of two soldiers with ties to New Jersey killed Monday. In Iraq, Army Sergeant First Class Scott R. Smith, 34, died in Iskandariyah, about 25 miles south of Baghdad, when an improvised explosive device detonated near him.

Smith grew up in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, but worked for the past five years at Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County, developing methods to disarm spent weapons and designing and testing robots capable of detecting bombs or of bearing weapons themselves, said Joseph Wu, the director of Picatinny's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Directorate.

“He was part of a special gang of very, very bright (noncommissioned officers) that advanced the idea of armed robots,” Wu said. “Now it's gone through the first iteration of development and is being urgently released to Iraq.”

On Monday, Smith was trying to defuse one improvised explosive device when another exploded nearby, an Army spokesman said. A law enforcement and ordnance-disposal specialist, Smith had been stationed at Picatinny from September 2000 until January.

He put his experience with robotics to use after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

He and other soldiers from Picatinny, a weapons research and development facility, spent 10 days at the rubble-strewn World Trade Center site, directing a small camera-mounted robot that assisted in the recovery of victims, Wu said.

Wu said colleagues valued Smith not only for his smarts, but also for his propensity to speak his mind.

“He's so colorful,” Wu said. “He tells you if you have a good idea or if you have a bad idea. People love him for his frankness.

Smith — who had previously served in Italy, Kuwait and Afghanistan — was assigned to the 737th Explosive Ordnance Detachment, 52nd Ordnance Group, out of Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He was the 58th service member with ties to New Jersey killed in Iraq since the war began three years ago.

Chiomento marks the seventh service member from New Jersey killed in Afghanistan.

The son of an Army Staff Sergeant, Chiomento spent time as a child in Germany and Georgia before settling in New Jersey. With his father at Fort Dix, Chiomento graduated from Pemberton High School in 1990, said a cousin, Tom Chiomento of Havertown, Pennsylvania.

Shortly afterward, his family moved to Woodbury, in Gloucester County. In 1991, Chiomento joined the Army, following a plan he had scripted some time before.

“He was a kid who knew what he wanted, and he went after it,” Tom Chiomento said.

At his first posting, at Fort Wainwright in Alaska, Robert Chiomento met his future wife, then also in the Army. Together, the couple had two daughters, Ambre, now 13, and Syleste, now 5.

Staci Chiomento called her husband a “wonderful” father who spent as much time as possible with his daughters and who tried to lead by example. To show them the value of education, Robert Chiomento decided to pursue the completion of his bachelor's degree.

Chiomento, who earned an associate's degree in 2004, began to take business classes in the year before his deployment, his wife said.

Though he didn't relish the idea of combat, Chiomento also didn't like remaining at home, out of harm's way, while so many of his friends and fellow soldiers fought for U.S. interests overseas. As a result, he arranged his transfer, his wife said.

“He didn't like being one of the only husbands in the neighborhood (on base),” she said. “He said he felt bad.”

In March, Chiomento went to Afghanistan with the 4th Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division.

He was serving on Task Force Warrior, which was involved in clearing the region of resurgent Taliban rebels.

Military officials said he was killed when his platoon came under attack with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

Staci Chiomento said her husband will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, though a date had not been set yesterday. In addition to his wife and daughters, Chiomento is survived by his parents, Robert and Christine, and a brother, Thomas.

21 July 2006:

A soldier who grew up in New Jersey was killed in Afghanistan this week when his unit came under attack, the Department of Defense announced Thursday.

Staff Sergeant Robert Joseph Chiomento II, 34, whose parents live in the Deepwater section of Pennsville, Salem County, died Monday near Khwaya Ahmad, Afghanistan.

He was hit when his patrol encountered enemy forces who attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and mortar fire.

Chiomento, the son of a career soldier, graduated from Pemberton Township High School in Burlington County in 1990 while his father was stationed at Fort Dix.

He joined the Army in October 1991, the same year his father retired.

After basic training at Fort Dix, he joined the 82nd Airborne Division and served in Panama.

He had been based at Fort Polk, Louisiana, since January 2005. His wife, Staci, and two daughters, Amber, 13, and Syleste, 5, live there.

In Afghanistan, he was assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, and was serving as part of Task Force Warrior in the southern Afghanistan region.

His parents, Robert and Christine, did not wish to speak with a reporter who visited their home on Thursday evening.

A relative spoke on their behalf.

Robert Chiomento was “a patriot, a loyal soldier, a loving father and an adoring husband,” said his cousin, Tom Chiomento.

“His kids loved him and were very supportive,” Tom Chiomento said.

Robert Chiomento had won numerous military awards, including the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge and Army Achievement Medal.

He is to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

As 2 Are Buried, Day Is Saturated With Grief
Soldiers From Maryland and New Jersey Mourned
By Arianne Aryanpur
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Twice yesterday, a grassy plot in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery was covered with a green tarp and sun awning in preparation for mourners coming to pay tribute to soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's a ritual that will be repeated several times this week.

The air was thick and hazy by 11 a.m., when ceremonies began for Army Staff Sergeant Robert Chiomento II, 34, of Fort Dix, New Jersey. Officials said he died July 17, 2006, when his patrol was attacked with grenades and mortars in Khwaya Ahmad, Afghanistan.


Chiomento lived with his wife, Staci, and two daughters in Louisiana, where he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Fort Polk.

He was the 37th person killed in Operation Enduring Freedom to be buried at Arlington.

Family members said Chiomento had been placed in a non-deployable job but wanted to serve abroad. So he spoke with some friends and was reassigned to Afghanistan in March.

Yesterday, a line of Patriot Guard Riders — motorcyclists who pay respects at military funerals — joined the procession to grave site 8,408.

Under an awning, Chiomento's family watched six soldiers lift his flag-draped coffin from the hearse. Others in the crowd of about 40 spilled onto the grass, squinting and shielding themselves from the sun with umbrellas.

“Sometimes he could come across as gruff when you first met him, but he was really a big teddy bear,” Staci Chiomento said.

She said her husband was “very goal-oriented” and managed the family's finances carefully. He earned an associate's degree in general studies in 2004 and hoped that his daughters — Amber, 13, and Syleste, 5 — would one day attend college. He believed that girls needed to know how to defend themselves, so he enrolled them in taekwondo. On weekends, he took them putting at the golf course for “forced family fun,” his wife said.

Chiomento was scheduled to retire from the military in 5 1/2 years and was planning to return to school for a bachelor's degree — about the same time Staci was expected to wrap up her master's.

“He had grown into the perfect complement to me,” she said through tears. “He wasn't perfect by all means, but he was perfect for me.”

A few hours later, the family of Army Staff Sergeant Christopher W. Swanson of Rose Haven, in Anne Arundel County, gathered at Section 60, grave site 8,409. Swanson, 25, died July 22 when his patrol came under small-arms fire in Ramadi, Iraq. He was the 253rd person killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom to be buried at Arlington.

He was in his third tour of Iraq.

“Why did Chris keep going back?” said Glenn Swanson, an uncle who spoke on behalf of Swanson's parents, Gary and Kelly. “Because of the kids. He remembered them coming up to him, hugging him and thanking him.”

 As an 11th-grader at Southern High School, Swanson was unsure where his life was heading. But he found his calling a few months before graduating in 1999.

His military career took him to boot camp at Fort Benning, Georgia, and to Kosovo. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, based in Baumholder, Germany. Between tours, he returned to his church — First Baptist in Upper Marlboro — and shared stories about Iraq. “A lot of the kids looked up to him, and deservedly so,” his uncle said.

Yesterday, a crowd of nearly 100 listened as an Army chaplain, speaking over the sound of planes flying overhead, spoke of Swanson's “self-sacrifice.” The mourners then bowed their heads as the chaplain delivered a prayer.

Family members said Swanson was awarded a Purple Heart two weeks before his death but continued serving with characteristic resolve. He kept tabs on his family and favorite sports teams — the Baltimore Orioles, the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Ravens — via instant messaging.

This weekend, a motorcade escorted Swanson's body home from Dover, Delaware. When the procession entered Rose Haven, parents and children lined the streets waving yellow ribbons and American flags. His uncle said the outpouring was a testament to Swanson's sacrifice.

“These guys are true heroes,” he said. “Even if you don't like war, you've got to like the warrior, you've got to love the soldier.”


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 02/08/1972
  • DATE OF DEATH: 07/17/2006



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