U.S. Army Reserve Center named after a fallen hometown Soldier
November 7, 2011
Story and photos by Sgt. 1st Class Andy Yoshimura, USACAPOC(A) PAO
NEWPORT, R.I. - Anniversaries are symbols of significant events and mile markers in one's life. Typically yielding memories and gifts, these celebrations help remind us of the things we have to be joyous about.
However, for the family of Michael Paranzino, the anniversary they recognize each year on Nov. 5 is not a joyous one.
Sgt. Michael Paranzino was a cavalry scout with the 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, killed in action in Afghanistan, Nov. 5, 2010.
In honor of Paranzino, the United States Army Reserve Center on Naval Station Newport here is now called the Sergeant Michael F. Paranzino Army Reserve Center. The renaming was made official during a somber yet admirable memorialization ceremony held Nov. 5, exactly one year after Paranzino's death.
Soldiers from the 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion, which resides in the new facility, helped push naming the building after the Newport-born, Middleton, R.I. native. Paranzino and the 1-71 maintained elements of the 443rd in Afghanistan.
After numerous memorandums and letters, U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse helped persuade the Congress to strongly support the motion to have the new Army Reserve center named in honor of Paranzino.
"During the memorialization process, we learned more about what Michael did and what type of person he was," said Sgt. 1st Class William Kepler, a command security manager for the 443rd. "As we moved forward with the process, we saw it was more fitting that he was the one this building should be named after."
Paranzino died Nov. 5, 2010, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. After his first tour in Iraq, the decorated Soldier was on his second deployment, leading his Soldiers in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"Paranzino served honorably and selflessly during his tour, working to establish security by bringing the fight directly to the insurgents," said Maj. Gerard Walsh, commander of Company C, 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion, based at Forward Operating Base Pasab. "His actions and his unit's support of civil affairs teams of the 443rd to begin reconstruction, development, governance and humanitarian assistance programs for the Afghan people."
"Michael could not have been a better leader," said Spc. Brindle Owens, formerly of the 1-71. "He taught me a lot of what I know. He was a great Soldier and a great human being. I miss him a lot."
Exactly a year after his death, Soldiers, sailors, senators and the Paranzino family cut the ribbon, officially opening the multimillion-dollar facility housing more than 700 Soldiers from four different commands. Of the 426 facilities on the naval station, the Paranzino Army Reserve Center is the only one named after a Soldier.
Maj. Gen. William D.R. Waff, commanding general of the 99th Regional Support Command, challenged the Soldiers who call the facility their home an asset and use the skills they have been given as leverage to train in the building.
"Whenever anyone comes into the center, please take time to remember Sgt. Michael Paranzino," he said to the hundreds in attendance.
The 60,000-square-foot facility accompanies a 3,000-square-foot vehicle maintenance shop and a 2,500-square-foot storage facility, and is the only building built and operated by the Army on the naval base. Locating the Army Reserve Center on the Navy installation allows for more efficient use of nearby training areas and added force protection, and consolidating the four Army Reserve units from outdated facilities in surrounding areas will save millions of dollars.
"This facility will always be a great source of pride for his family; always," said Butch Paranzino, Michael's father. "I look forward to the day when I bring his children and tell him about their father and why this facility has his name on it."
"To our son, who brought a bright light so great to the world. Even after he is gone, the light continues," read a message from Michael's parents, Butch and Melane Paranzino.