Stephen A Bertolino
November 29, 2003
|Haditha, Iraq. Bertolino was traveling in a convoy when his vehicle was hit by enemy fire. He died as a result of his injuries.|
Stephen A. Bertolino was a man who would do anything to help others -- from fellow soldiers to strangers. "He could never drive past anyone stopped on the road without stopping to help them," said his wife, Susan Bertolino. He also is survived by his children. Bertolino was killed Nov. 29 when his truck was ambushed in Haditha, Iraq. He was stationed at Fort Carson.
|Stephen 'Tony' Bertolino ambushed on Saturday
By Michael Stetz
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
December 3, 2003
Stephen "Tony" Bertolino stood 6 feet 6 inches tall. But his size was misleading, said his brother, Joseph.
"He was just a big kid," he said. "He always wanted to have fun."
Stephen Bertolino, an Army staff sergeant, died Saturday in an ambush in Iraq.
Bertolino, 40, lived for years in El Cajon and graduated in 1982 from Granite Hills High School.
For several years, he served as an Army recruiter in Santee, before being transferred to Fort Carson, Colo., in January.
There, he lived with his wife, Susan, who is from Escondido, and their four children, Stephen Anthony Jr., 13; Daniel, 12; Karina, 7; and Jason, 6.
He was assigned to the Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment. He was in a convoy in Haditha when guerrillas attacked his vehicle.
He had been deployed to Iraq near the end of March, Joseph Bertolino said. He left only days after their mother, Mary, was buried. She died of cancer.
It was a somber family moment in many respects. The brother known as "Tony," because his middle name was Anthony, was going to war.
"I gave him a hug and I told him that I loved him," said Joseph of El Cajon.
Military service runs in the family. Another brother, Mark, is in the Navy. Their father, Joseph Sr., who also lives in El Cajon, is a veteran.
Stephen Bertolino's wife, Susan, said in an e-mail: "He was an extremely charitable man and would help anyone with anything. He could never drive past anyone stopped on the road without stopping to help them."
The two had met during a camping trip in Julian.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he taught children's classes for many years, Susan said.
He logged more than 1,000 hours of volunteer service with the Chatham County Sheriff's Department while stationed in Savannah, Ga., she said.
His brother was a gentle person, Joseph Bertolino said. He recalled that when they were boys, several kids had ganged up on Tony. He would not strike back with force.
"He said he didn't want to hurt anybody."
Services will be held in Escondido as soon as arrangements can be made, the family said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Michael Stetz: (619) 542-4570; firstname.lastname@example.org
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