Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pfc. Paul O. Cuzzupe II of Seffner killed in Afghanistan

TAMPA — The Army was in Paul O. Cuzzupe II's genes.

Both his parents donned Army greens. He was born on the Army base at Fort Riley, Kan.

He knew he would follow in their footsteps someday, said his grandfather, David Allard.

It became official last year when the 2005 graduate of Armwood High School in Seffner enlisted. He went on to become an Army combat medic, and was deployed to Afghanistan less than two months ago.

"He wanted to help people," said Allard, of Plant City.

Early Sunday, Pfc. Cuzzupe, 23, died during combat operations there, Allard said.

He was killed in Akhtar-Mohammad-Khan of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device, the U.S Department of Defense said. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment in Vilseck, Germany.

On Monday night, Cuzzupe's mother, Annette Kirk, and his grandmother, Judy Allard, traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, from where his body will be brought back home.

Cuzzupe's death came just a week after he was honored with the Army Commendation Medal for his efforts to save an Afghani child's life. The young child had lost both legs and an arm, and Cuzzupe did everything he could for the child but was unsuccessful, said his friend Jared Wilbur.

His higher-ups said he had gone above and beyond the call of duty, said Wilbur, 19, of Brandon.

"But that was just who he was."

Growing up in Seffner, Cuzzupe, the oldest of four kids, was known by friends as someone to turn to for advice.

"If someone was going to make a bad decision, he was always the voice of reason," said his friend and former bandmate Robert Wisniewski of Port Richey.

He also was the one who knew music. "When it came to a lot of things, he was a perfectionist, but especially his music," said Wisniewski, 24.

Cuzzupe learned to play guitar and formed a rock band with some friends. They called themselves the Seed.

He would talk music theory, write out the notes and make sure the sound was just right, Wisniewski said.

After high school, Cuzzupe attended Saint Leo University, missing graduation by just one semester, his grandfather said. He had wanted to become a high school history teacher, but his passion for the Army led him away from that path, Allard said.

He felt like it was a family tradition, Wisniewski said.

"It was always something that made him proud."

Several weeks after he was deployed, Cuzzupe told friends on Facebook how much he missed them.

"I want everyone back home to know that I am sorry if I have not been getting back to everyone in a timely fashion," he wrote. "I am in a very dangerous and bad place right now. I only have so much time, and a lot of people to talk to. I love and miss you all. When things calm down I will be contacting everyone that I am able to."

Then, about two weeks ago, Cuzzupe called his grandparents at 4 a.m.

"He said he was worried and concerned because of the conditions over there," Allard said, "but he knew he had a job to do."

Paul O. Cuzzupe II

Born: Dec. 2, 1986

Died: Aug. 8, 2010

Survived by: Mother, Annette Kirk; younger brothers Anthony and David Cuzzupe; younger sister Alexis Kirk.

Preceded in death by: Father, Paul Cuzzupe.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Pfc. Paul O. Cuzzupe II of Seffner killed in Afghanistan 08/09/10 [Last modified: Monday, August 9, 2010 11:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa moves to put freed slave Fortune Taylor's name back on historic bridge

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — City Hall has agreed to return a long-lost honor to the memory of Fortune Taylor, a freed slave who amassed more than 30 acres near downtown Tampa after the Civil War.

    The Laurel Street Bridge over the Hillsborough River was once known as the Fortune Street Bridge in honor of Madam Fortune Taylor, a former slave and businesswoman who amassed 33 acres on the east bank of the Hillsborough River after the Civil War. The City Council voted Thursday to put Taylor's name on signs posted at the foot of the bridge and seek a historical marker telling her story. SKIP O'ROURKE  |   Times (2016)

  2. Bucs' Mike Evans, Bills cornerback Gaines could face off again

    Bucs

    Bucs receiver Mike Evans has gone up against four Pro Bowl cornerbacks in five games, and on Sunday he could be lining up against a corner he has a history with in Buffalo's E.J. Gaines.

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans (13) makes a touchdown catch over Arizona Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel (28)  Sunday  in Glendale, Ariz. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  3. Tie in Clearwater downtown development board election causes runoff

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — The Oct. 10 Downtown Development Board election for three open seats did not result in the historic dynamic it had the potential to create.

  4. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: The importance of Kwon Alexander's return

    Bucs

    Greg Auman talks the importance of Kwon Alexander's return Sunday in Buffalo in his latest Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Bucs middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, pictured during training camp in July at One Buc Place. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Top 5 at Noon: Live from Gainesville before Spencer's speech; Why Trump's definition of 'fake news' is wrong

    News

    Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:

    Richard Spencer, head of the National Policy Institute and self-described creator of the term "alt-right,"  will speak at the University of Florida today. [Getty]