DERRY — U.S. Army Ranger 1st Lt. Paul DeMeo’s parents remember their son as a driven, yet humble young man who looked out for all of those around him.
DeMeo, a 2007 Pinkerton Academy graduate, died unexpectedly while stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., on May 14.
A cause of death has not been determined, according to Army officials.
DeMeo was “a prince who God called back to his kingdom,” according to his parents, Paul and Lucienne DeMeo.
“Paul was a charming person who always looked out for his brothers and sisters,” said Lucienne. “As an Army officer, Paul looked out for his troops as if they were family. He was humble and always driven to do better. He had the most beautiful smile.”
DeMeo was born at the U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, and his father said he decided to join the military while still living on Kwajalein.
“Being born on and living on a military installation in a foreign country until he was 13½, the military was the lifestyle he knew,” said his father.
Within a few months of moving to Derry, DeMeo joined the Air Force Junior ROTC at Pinkerton Academy. With the help of Air Force Junior ROTC instructor Lt. Col. Howie Steadman, he became more aware of the duties and responsibilities that go along with different military ranks, DeMeo’s father said.
“He got a small taste of what it meant to be an enlisted person and found that he wanted to take on the added challenges required of an officer,” he said.
Steadman remembered DeMeo as a natural leader who earned the respect of students and instructors.
During his senior year in the Air Force Junior ROTC program, DeMeo was named Cadet Commander and received many local and national Air Force Junior ROTC awards.
DeMeo was also the first member of the Pinkerton Academy Air Force Junior ROTC program to attend a service academy, graduating from West Point in 2011.