Designates Oct. 3 as “Sergeant Dominick Pilla and Corporal Jamie Smith Day”
On October 3, 1993, United States Army Rangers Dominick Pilla and Jamie Smith were 21-year-olds proudly serving their country in Mogadishu, Somalia nearly 8,000 miles from their New Jersey homes. Sgt. Pilla, from Vineland in Cumberland County, and Cpl. Smith, from Long Valley in Morris County, never returned to the U.S.
Both were killed that day.
“These soldiers were among the millions of men and women who sacrifice their time, families, careers and in this case, their lives, to protect the United States of America,” said Assemblyman R. Bruce Land (D-Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland).
Land and his fellow district mate, Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak, are sponsors of a joint resolution (AJR-129) that was approved 79-0-0 Thursday by the full Assembly. It designates October 3 as “Sergeant Dominick Pilla and Corporal Jamie Smith Day” in New Jersey.
“They may be gone, but they are not forgotten,” said Andrzejczak. “This designated day will help us remember that these soldiers lost their lives for our state and for our country. Their heroism and selfless acts will forever be commemorated in New Jersey.”
Sgt. Pilla was a member of an Army Ranger team deployed to the east African country to recover and extract fellow rangers from a downed Black Hawk helicopter. His convoy was ambushed, making him the first of 18 soldiers killed in the Battle of Mogadishu.
Cpl. Smith was deployed to Somalia to contain and capture warlords. During a raid on this mission, he and fellow rangers were on their way to the crash site of another Black Hawk that had been shot down. While en route, a bullet struck his leg, severing his femoral artery.
The deaths of both men were depicted in the 2001 motion picture, “Black Hawk Down.” Sgt. Pilla was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with valor device and the Purple Heart. Cpl. Smith was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with valor device, an Oak Cluster, and a Purple Heart.