Served with 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division
Sgt. Scusa was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Oct. 3, 2009 in Kamdesh, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his contingency outpost with small arms, rocket-propelled grenade and indirect fires. Also killed were Sgt. Justin T. Gallegos, Spc. Christopher T. Griffin, Sgt. Joshua M. Hardt, Sgt. Joshua J. Kirk, Spc. Stephan L. Mace, Staff Sgt. Vernon W. Martin and Pfc. Kevin C. Thomson.
Star-Ledger -- Instead of the mundane announcements normally read over the intercom at Lower Cape May Regional High School, there was a moment of silence yesterday for a 2005 graduate -- someone remembered for his quiet respect and "yes, ma'am" and "no, ma'am" way of addressing teachers.
The student, Army Spc. Michael P. Scusa of Villas had died in Afghanistan days earlier.
Seven former students, all members of the New Jersey National Guard, had safely returned from their recent deployment to Iraq. Another former student returned missing a limb. But this was the first military death of an alumnus.
Scusa, who would have turned 23 on Monday, was killed along with seven other U.S. soldiers on Saturday during a fierce daylong attack by as many as 200 insurgents in a forward operating base deep in the mountains of Afghanistan, according to military officials. He is the 109th service member with ties to New Jersey to have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We pay the price with our young men," said Bert Kern, the assistant principal at Lower Cape May Regional. "We all miss him."
Scusa was a nice kid who always wanted to go into the military, Kern said, adding "he basically stayed under the radar."
As a teenager, Scusa would load up a backpack with bricks and jog through his neighborhood, David Shuhart, a family friend, told the Press of Atlantic City. He was impassioned about joining the Army.
"That is all he ever said he wanted to do," said Valerie Davis, his math teacher in the 11th and 12th grades.
A month after graduating from high school, he was in basic training. After his first tour of duty, he returned to Davis' class, in uniform, to talk to her students about what his life was like. Scusa entertained questions about the social life and the heat, but also serious ones about the danger.
"He made it seem that it wasn't as bad as it was on TV," Davis said.
Still, he told his teacher, he would wait until after the holidays to tell his mother he had re-enlisted.
Stationed in Fort Carson, Colo., he got married there about 18 months ago, Shuhart said. He and his wife, Alyssa, had a son, Connor.
Scusa, who was attached to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, died in a firefight that marked the greatest loss of life for the brigade in a single battle in Iraq or Afghanistan. The mountainous outpost was in the final stages of withdrawing from the position, according to the military officials speaking to the Gazette of Colorado Springs. Scusa's death came days from the eighth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan by the United States and amid high-level deliberations about military strategy in the region.
His body was returned to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware early yesterday morning in a solemn procession with the bodies of five other soldiers and 50 relatives, according to the Associated Press. A single child wailed on the crisp, sunny day.
In Fort Carson, on the door of the home where he lived, a wreath and a yellow ribbon hung with Scusa's name.
==Another news story==
KKTV -- Spc. Michael P. Scusa was killed October 3 in Afghanistan when his combat outpost was attacked by enemy insurgents. He and eight fellow soldiers lost their lives in the battle.
In Colorado Springs, there is a yellow ribbon around the tree at Specialist Michael Scusa's home.
11 News spoke with Specialist Scusa's wife, Alyssa, on Wednesday. Alyssa says she will remember her husband Michael as a goofy, fun loving person, who made everyone smile. She last talked with him on Friday for the last time. She says her husband deployed in May. It was his second deployment. His first deployment was for 15 months in Iraq. from October 2006 – December 2007.
Alyssa and Michael were married a little over two years. They have a 1-year-old son named Connor. He is named after one of Michael's close friends who was also killed while serving our country. Michael left for Afghanistan when Connor was 8 months old. He just celebrated his first birthday in September.
Alyssa grew up in Colorado Springs. She went to Rampart High School and met Michael while she was working at the Chapel Hills Mall shortly after he was stationed at Fort Carson, which was his first duty station.
Michael's father-in-law tells 11 News that Michael was proud to be a soldier. He believed in his mission and his family.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be finalized. Michael told Alyssa he wanted to be buried in Colorado Springs, so he would be close to his son.
Awards and Citations
Bronze Star Medal
Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal w/ Campaign Star
Iraq Campaign Medal w/ Campaign Star
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon
Combat Action Badge
Drivers Mechanic Badge - Wheeled Vehicle
Army Commendation Medal with “V” for Valor
SGT Scusa’s write-up for the Award of the Army Commendation Medal with “V” for Valor:
At 0600 on 03 October 2009, Combat Outpost Keating, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan came under complex attack by an enemy force estimated at 400 fighters. The fighters occupied the high ground on all four sides of the COP and initiated the attack with concentrated fire from a B10 recoilless rifle, rocket-propelled grenades, DSHKAs, mortars, and small arms. Knowing that his unit was surrounded and taking effective fire, SGT Michael P. Scusa left the barracks to resupply the LRAS guard point. SGT Scusa, without hesitation, left the barracks to run ammunition resupply to a guard point that was fixed and black on ammunition. Running twice through 100 meters of heavy enemy fire, SPC Scusa returned to the barracks. Upon his return, he immediately picked up an additional load of 7.62mm ammunition to take to the outpost’s entry control point (ECP). Knowing that there was sniper and machine gun fire directly outside the door, SGT Scusa courageously ran out to resupply Soldier's from other sections and platoons. Upon moving to the ECP, SGT Scusa was killed in action under effective enemy sniper fire. SGT Scusa's actions allowed Blue Platoon to regain momentum and conduct a successful counter attack which destroyed remaining enemy forces on COP Keating.
SGT Scusa’s ARCOM-V Citation reads:
FOR EXCEPTIONAL VALOR ON 03 OCTOBER 2009 IN SUPPORT OF COP KEATING'S MAIN DEFENSE, SGT MICHAEL P. SCUSA EXEMPLIFIED THE SKILL AND BRAVERY OF A CAVALRY SCOUT. SGT SCUSA RAN OVER 100 METERS OF HEAVY ENEMY FIRE TO RESUPPLY A GUARD POINT THAT HAD EXHAUSTED ITS AMMUNITION. HE OBTAINED MORE AMMUNITION TO RESUPPLY THE NEXT GUARD POINT, AND RAN THROUGH AN ADDITIONAL 70 METERS OF RPG AND SNIPER FIRE WHERE HE WAS KILLED IN ACTION. SGT SCUSA'S ACTIONS ENABLED THE OUTPOST'S WESTERN GUARD POINT TO CONTINUE TO SUPPRESS THE ENEMY WHILE TWO OTHER CREWS WERE ABLE TO PULL BACK TO COVERED POSITIONS. SGT SCUSA'S DISCIPLINE AND BRAVERY BRINGS GREAT CREDIT UPON HIM, B TROOP, THE 3RD SQUADRON, 61ST CAVALRY REGIMENT, 4TH INFANTRY BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM, 4TH INFANTRY DIVISION AND THE UNITED STATES ARMY.