Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Waldwick Marine Killed in Combat

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Waldwick Marine Killed in Combat

Article excerpt

Marine Staff Sgt. Joseph D'Augustine of Waldwick was due to come home from Afghanistan in 15 days. His sister Nicole was getting married and had scheduled the wedding for May so he could be there, his family said.

"The wedding was planned for when he came home," said another sister, Michele Kulesa of Mahwah.

But on Tuesday, the war dealt the family a devastating blow. D'Augustine, 29, who was assigned to an explosive ordnance disposal unit, was dead. They were told he had been killed in the Sangin district of Helmand province, a fierce battleground where 19,000 Marines are deployed.

The family said D'Augustine was killed this week. The Defense Department had not announced the death or released any details as of Wednesday night.

"We are still in shock," Kulesa said.

D'Augustine had already served two tours in Iraq and was on his second tour in Afghanistan, his family said.

"Every time he left, we would hold our breath," Kulesa said.

Afghanistan was rough duty. "He said it was really bad over there," said Kulesa.

On his last tour, D'Augustine didn't have much time for phone calls. He let his family know how he was doing with emails, Kulesa said.

"He always promised us he knew what he was doing," Kulesa said. "He was so confident; it made us really feel good. He fought for us. He fought for our country."

The family plans to travel to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware today to bring his body home.

"He loved the Marines," Kulesa said "We are very proud of him. He was the best brother and son, and uncle."

D'Augustine beams in a family photograph, a fresh-faced Marine with a winning bright smile, a chest full of medals and a Leatherneck haircut.

He was so proud of the corps that he often told others about it, especially youngsters back home.

"He wrote my sons' elementary classes letters," Kulesa said. "They all sent him cards. …

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