NEWS

Massachusetts Green Beret killed in Iraq

Heather McCarron

FRANKLIN - A 29-year-old soldier from Franklin was killed in action Wednesday while serving in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Robert Ryan Pirelli's death was confirmed by Franklin veterans’ agent Bob Fahey.

The son of Robert and Nancy Pirelli, of Franklin, the staff sergeant was serving in the U.S. Army Special Forces as a Green Beret.

Family members declined to comment at this time, having just learned of their loss late Wednesday night.

James Ginley, of the Ginley Jackson Funeral Home in Franklin, said today the family had already contacted him to begin working on preliminary funeral arrangements, but no details had yet been worked out.

“They (the Army) just came late last night,” Ginley said this afternoon. “The Army just left (the Pirelli home) a few hours ago.”

Ginley said nobody knows at this time when the soldier’s body will be returned to the States. He said he wouldn’t expect a funeral to be held until late next week or later.

“There’s no real good answers (from the Army),” Ginley said.

Fahey said he also has no positive answers at this time. “There’s nothing definitive yet,” he said today.

While awaiting further information, Fahey said the flags in town will be lowered to half staff in honor of Pirelli. He said the town will arrange for the proper acknowledgements when the soldier's body is returned.

Ginley said the family is overwhelmed by the news. “It’s such a shock,” he said.

There were no details of Pirelli’s death available from the U.S. Army this afternoon.

According to Walter Sokalski, deputy of public affairs for Army Special Operations Command in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, the Department of Defense policy is not to release information to the media right away, “because we try to give the families time to digest this information.”

Pirelli is the first Franklin soldier killed in the Middle East since 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Shayne Cabino was killed in action, Oct. 6, 2006, with three other members of the 2nd Marine Battalion near Karmah, Iraq.

Heather McCarron reports for The Milford (Mass.) Daily News. Michael Morton contributed to this report.