CHICAGO (CBS) – A 26-year-old Army private from southwest suburban Homer Glen is among the five soldiers who were killed Monday in Iraq.
Pfc. Michael Olivieri was killed with his four comrades when insurgents attacked their base. All of those killed were from the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, from Fort Riley, Kansas.
Outside the Olivieri house Thursday, small American flags dotted the front yard. Inside, his mom and dad remembered the soldier’s life.
“It’s unfortunate we have to lose some of our best people but it’s historic and it happens, and we’ll get through it,” father Mike Olivieri Sr. told CBS 2’s Mike Parker.
The soldier’s mother, Jody Olivieri, said her popular son “had a lot of friends and always brought a lot of laughter and love to the people that were around him.”
Olivieri had been slated to come home on leave next week to celebrate his first wedding anniversary with his wife, Sharon. He had been in the Army only for eight months but was already a platoon leader.
Also killed were Spc. Emilio Campo of Minnesota, Pfc. Michael Cook of Ohio, Pfc. Christopher Fishbeck of California and Spc. Robert Hartwick of Ohio.
The soldiers, first deployed to Iraq in November 2010, were part of a brigade assigned to support the development of Iraq forces and the improvement of civilian life in central Iraq.
Each of the soldiers had served less than two years and were on their first deployment.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of these young heroes and our thoughts and prayers go out to their families,” Lt. Col. Andrew Gainey, the soldiers’ battalion commander, said in a news release. “They were all outstanding soldiers, outstanding people, and most importantly, our good friends.”
The 1st Infantry Division, also known as the “Big Red One,” is the oldest division in the Army.