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thedrifter
01-25-06, 10:54 AM
01/25/2006
Penn Student Volunteers For Iraq Duty
By Barbara Ormsby
County Press

Delco Man Had Fulfilled Duty In Kosovo But Felt Guilty That Those With Families Were Bearing Burden

As a member of the First Troop, Philadelphia City Cavalry, Nick Miccarelli already fulfilled his Pennsylvania National Guard duty when he went to Kosovo three years ago for a 12-month tour of duty.

So why did the 23-year old Ridley Park man volunteer to go to the Iraqui city of Ramadi, where suicide bombers recently claimed more than 70 lives on just one day?

"My year in Kosovo put me at the bottom of the list (for redeployment) but Ramadi is a section where there are a lot of guys in my unit still over there with families and jobs and responsibilities and it began to weigh on my conscience," the University of Pennsylvania senior explained.

Miccarelli will put the current semester at Penn on hold, opting to graduate in the fall instead of in the spring. He left for Camp Shelby, Miss. on Jan. 12 for refresher training where he will learn about cultural awareness in Iraq. He expects to arrive in the war torn country in February.

Miccarelli is a Ridley High School graduate and the only child of Linda and Nick Miccarelli. When they heard of his plans to volunteer for duty in Iraq he said they went "bananas."

"My mother is very upset but my father understands about tradition and a man's responsibility," the young soldier said. "I try to explain to my mom that people in our family have brought democracy to people in the world."

The tradition Miccarelli speaks of is the military service of his father in the Korean War, and of his uncle, Larry, in Vietnam.
"And on my mother's side, it goes back to the Revolution and on my father's side, there was probably a Roman soldier or two," he added with a smile.

Miccarelli enlisted in the National Guard in 1999 and is a sergeant. People who know him aren't surprised at his decision to volunteer for service in Iraq. They recently gave him a send-off party at The Cafe in Philadelphia and several members of the Ridley Park Borough Council along with his neighbors hosted a farewell dinner for him the night before he left for Camp Shelby. Among those at the dinner were people who worked with him on the recent "Sister Town" project, a relief effort which paired Ridley Park with Waveland, Miss., a Gulf of Mexico town nearly obliterated by Hurricane Katrina.

The sister town project grew out of a conversation Miccarelli had with his next door neighbor, former Ridley Park mayor Tom Kennedy.

"I said to Tom 'is there something we should be doing?' and he suggested a joint town project," Miccarelli recalled.

Chris Valerio, another neighbor, had an uncle who lived in Waveland and she and her family often visited in the picturesque seaside town. Her uncle, Bill Boyd, is a Delaware County native and he owned a restaurant in Waveland. The selection for the sister town was a given. Miccarelli played a major part in the relief effort that saw a truck load of supplies sent to Waveland. When Ridley Park donated a used police car to Waveland's police department, Miccarelli joined police officer Mark Bascelli in driving the car to the gulf coast town.
Miccarelli is majoring in political science at Penn and is thinking of law school after he graduates. But he isn't ruling out a career in the military. He is a Republican and is state chairman of the State Federation of College Republicans, an organization devoted to working on election campaigns of Republican candidates and he proudly notes he is following in the footsteps of US Sen. Rick Santorum.

"He (Santorum) made a joke to me that I will be nice and battle tested for a big fight in November," Miccarelli said.
The College Republicans, Miccarelli noted, do a lot of campaign work using college students.

"Our primary focus is to work on campaign but last year we collected DVDs and sent them overseas," he added.
Last summer Miccarelli met Pres. George W.Bush at a Santorum fund raiser in Lower Merion and had his picture taken with the president. A copy occupys a place of honor in the young Miccarelli's grandparents home in Ridley Township. Mera and Nick Miccarelli are his dad's parents and are months away from celebrating their 73rd wedding anniversary. They are justifiable proud of their grandson.

"What a grandson he is," the elder Nick Miccarelli said of Nicholas Miccarelli III.

Ellie