The Pinkerton Academy community mourned the death last week of a graduate from the school and its Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program. 1st Lieutenant Paul DeMeo, 23, of Derry died Tuesday, May 14, at Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, N.C. At press time, Army officials were still investigating and had not released a cause of death.
DeMeo, the son of Paul and M. Lucienne (Michel) DeMeo, joined JROTC as a freshman at Pinkerton, according to Lt. Col. Howie Steadman, the director of the JROTC program. “He was a great kid,” Steadman said in a phone interview this week.
Early on, Steadman said, DeMeo, a member of the Pinkerton Class of 2007, distinguished himself as “a sharp kid with a good future.” He worked his way through the JROTC ranks, becoming Cadet Group Commander, the highest rank, by his senior year. He was a leader and role model for 200 cadets, Steadman said.
“He was destined to be a leader,” Steadman added. DeMeo was the first Pinkerton graduate to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. His younger brothers, twins Pascal and Nathen, followed his lead in JROTC and on to service academies, Nathen to West Point and Pascal to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. Both were scheduled to graduate this week.
Steadman said DeMeo kept in touch over the years. He touched base occasionally with his old mentor, Steadman said, but Steadman also kept up on the news through the two younger brothers. He had the honor of joining the family at West Point on DeMeo’s graduation, and helping pin on his Second Lieutenant rank.
According to a press release, DeMeo was a platoon leader assigned to Company B, Second Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. His commander, Lt. Col. J.C. White, called him “a charismatic leader who cared deeply for his fellow soldiers and left a lasting impression on them.”
The signs pointed to a brilliant military career, with DeMeo already having earned 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.
“It is a sad day for us,” Steadman said. Glen Ahrens, dean of students at Pinkerton, announced DeMeo’s death to the school and called for a moment of silence among the student body. The flag was lowered to half staff. Paul DeMeo ‘07 was pictured on the cover of our Alumnus magazine in Winter 2010. The cover is attached. He’s in the center, flanked by his twin brothers who also graduated from Pinkerton: Pascal and Nathen (class of 2009). All three men attended military academies on full scholarships. At Pinkerton in the JROTC program, Paul and brother Pascal were Corps Commanders; Nathen was a Command Chief.
Mary Anderson, Pinkerton headmaster, wrote in a statement, ““Paul was an outstanding student, cadet and member of the Pinkerton community. The loss of any young person is tragic; this feels especially so as Paul exemplified what can be achieved.”
The students in Junior ROTC, who would possibly have been DeMeo’s comrades in arms, were “taking it well,” Steadman said. They were younger and had not known him. Besides his parents and twin brothers, he is survived by a sister, Danya Aleesa DeMeo of Derry; his girlfriend, Hannah Farmer of Charlotte, N.C.; his paternal grandfather, Paul J. DeMeo of Newton, Mass.; and his maternal grandmother, Amonia Valbrun of Derry.
Calling hours will be Tuesday, May 28, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Peabody Funeral Home, 15 Birch St., Derry. A Liturgy of Christian Burial will be held Wednesday, May 29, at 10 a.m. at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Derry. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Junior ROTC program, Pinkerton Academy, 5 Pinkerton St., Derry, NH 03038.