PITMAN, N.J. (CBS) – An Army Ranger from Pitman, New Jersey is the latest casualty in the war on terror.
Sgt. Alessandro “Sandrino” Plutino, 28, died Sunday while serving in Afghanistan with the 1-75th Army Ranger Regiment.
Plutino’s family confirmed his death Monday.
His family said they spoke to Sandrino around noon Sunday when he called to “reassure” them he was okay and not among the Army Rangers who came under heavy fire by insurgents on Saturday.
Dianne Plutino said during the Sunday afternoon call her son said, “’don’t worry about me mom … I’ll be home in two weeks.’”
Natalie Layton, Sandrino’s fiancée, also spoke to him.
“I asked him to lock himself in his room for the next two weeks so I didn’t have to worry and he said, ‘now you know that’s not the type of person I am.’”
His family said he was killed hours later in a firefight.
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Sandrino’s family described him as man of great faith with a strong heart and love for his family and country who knew since his teenage years that he wanted to serve and protect.
Dianne said he wanted to join the Army while still in high school and even in college, but she had other plans and wanted him to finish school.
“The day he graduated from college he sat down and said ‘I gotta go mom. I’ve done what you wanted me to do and now I have to do what I have to do,’” said Dianne.
He told his mom he knew she was afraid for him, but he argued he could die anywhere at anytime.
“’The day God gave me to you is the day he knew he’d take me home,’” Dianne said, recalling the conversation with her son. “That’s how deeply he believed.”
Sandrino joined the army in 2006 and served three tours in Iraq and three tours in Afghanistan.
“He believed in what he was doing. He believed it was the right thing to do and that is why he was doing it,” said Dianne. “Sandrino, in my mind, is a hero. He should be a hero in the mind of the nation.”
Plutino was a 2001 graduate of Pitman High School where he was a member of the football and wrestling teams. He continued to play football and wrestling while attending Western New England University in Springfield, Mass. from 2001 to 2003. He transferred to Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. where he completed his undergraduate work.
Sandrino and his fiancée, Natalie, were engaged to be married next August.
“He will be greatly, greatly missed,” said his sister, Brenna.
Sandrino’s funeral arrangements are pending.
The U.S. Department of Defense has not yet officially confirmed Sgt. Alessandro Plutino’s death.
By Jessica McWilliams, CBS Philly