November 02, 2011

Gillibrand Helps Decorated NY Soldier on his Mission to Replace 14 Stolen Medals for his Service Overseas

After 20 Years of Service Including Tours In Iraq & Afghanistan, Soldier Discovers His Bronze Star Medal, Grandfather’s WWII Purple Heart Have Gone Missing

Holtsville, NY Following Master Sergeant Jeffrey DeRosa’s twenty-year long military service, the decorated Long Island soldier returned home to discover all of his medals and awards were missing from his shipped belongings. After MSG DeRosa contacted the U.S. Army seeking replacement medals without success, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, stepped in to urge the U.S. Army to re-issue the 14 medals, as well as the lost posthumous Purple Heart awarded to his late grandfather killed in World War II. Among the honors the decorated soldier received over the years were a Bronze Star Medal for his service in Iraq, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Army Achievement Medal.

Senator Gillibrand said, “For two decades, MSG DeRosa followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and served our country with courage, heroism, and honor. The loss of these treasured medals is heartbreaking for the DeRosa family. These medals are a testament to this family’s extraordinary dedication to our country and the least we owe them is replacement medals so they can be passed on to future generations of the DeRosa family.” 

MSG Jeffrey DeRosa, 40, said, “After all my years of service, the theft was heartbreaking, but the Army’s response added insult to injury. These medals bring not only sentimental value, but they also represent my family’s support and love throughout these years. My grandfather was my biggest inspiration during my military career. To be entrusted with his Purple Heart and have that stolen on my watch is devastating.”    

In a letter to the U.S. Army, Senator Gillibrand wrote, “I am requesting your assistance in helping a retiring Army soldier, MSG Jeffrey DeRosa. After an honorable twenty-year career that included distinguished service in Iraq and Afghanistan, he returned home to discover that all of his military awards and decorations were missing… I would appreciate it if you would help this soldier and his family by replacing the lost medals that he and his grandfather earned through their service and sacrifice for our nation.” 

According to MSG DeRosa, the medals went missing while in the care of a private company hired by the Army to pack belongings of deployed soldiers. In late October, the Holtsville resident reached out to the New York City based U.S. Army Travel Office, which informed him that he could receive compensation for the medals, but that they will not be replaced.   

After being informed of MSG DeRosa’s situation, Senator Gillibrand immediately urged the U.S. Army to secure replacement medals for the soldier.  The father of two young daughters, ages 4 and 7, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his service in Iraq between August 2006 and November 2007. Days before his Battalion was set to deploy to Iraq, MSG DeRosa was promoted to First Sergeant and oversaw the deployment of the entire company and a platoon of 30 soldiers after the Battalion’s Major was relieved from duty for misconduct. MSG DeRosa was deployed to Afghanistan from February through July 2011. 

His grandfather Jerome DeRosa, an Italian immigrant who came to Brooklyn in the late 1930s, served in World War II as part of the 71st Infantry Division and was killed on April 1945 in Regensburg, Germany. He was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously.