Family mourns paratrooper killed in Iraq
Posted March 6, 2010 5:59 p.m. EST
Updated March 6, 2010 10:05 p.m. EST
Youngsville, N.C. — The family of a Youngsville paratrooper killed last month in western Iraq described their loved one on Saturday as outgoing and popular.
Cpl. Daniel "Danny" T. O'Leary, 23, died Feb. 23 in Fallujah, Iraq, when the vehicle he was in flipped. He was assigned to the 307th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg.
The paratrooper is survived by wife Nikita and parents Virginia and Tod O'Leary. They received his body in a flag-draped coffin on Friday during a ceremony at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
“It reiterated the reality of it all, but it was really touching to know that so many people, they cared about us,” Nikita O'Leary said.
This was Danny O'Leary's second deployment to Iraq in the past three years. The soldier joined the Army in April 2006 and reported to the division in August of that year.
"They were his brothers. We were a family," Nikita O'Leary said of her husband's fellow soldiers.
Danny O'Leary received many awards, including the Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, National Defense Services Medal, U.S. Army Good Conduct Medal, U.S. Amy Achievement Medal, U.S. Army Commendation Medal and The Bronze Star.
His funeral is scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Eakes Funeral Chapel in Creedmoor. A burial will follow at Carolina Memorial Gardens.
“I don't know where we go from here except that Danny will always be with us,” Tod O'Leary said.