A New Fairfield man, who is an Airman of the United States Air Force, died while serving overseas, town officials confirmed to Eyewitness News.
Staff Sgt. Todd James Lobraico, 22, was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan Thursday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement Friday.
"This loss reminds us of the dangers faced by our men and women stationed overseas," said Malloy. "We should all be grateful for their service and sacrifices to our country."
Lobraico, who was a member of the New York Air National Guard, graduated from New Fairfield High School in 2008, where he was a member of The Future Business Leaders of America and worked on the school newspaper, The Rebel Press.
Joe Gargano, who was Lobraico's advisor for FBLA, said he was involved in several causes including Thanksgiving food baskets for residents, an annual dodgeball game and food cards for families in town.
"It was this compassion and sense of honor and duty that led him to proudly serve his country," said Lobraico's high school social studies teacher, Chris Welter, in a statement Friday. "Our community and our country have lost an amazing young man."
Welter called Lobraico "one of the kindest and compassionate" men to ever attend New Fairfield High School.
"It is a sad day for the staff and community. We are proud of students who choose to join the military to defend the United States," said New Fairfield Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alicia Roy. "We are deeply saddened when that commitment costs the ultimate sacrifice. We will always remember and be thankful for TJ's dedication to our country."
Lobraico's family lives in Sherman. His father, who is also a war veteran, is a Stamford police officer. Eyewitness News talked to Stamford's retired chief Friday and he said the family is absolutely devastated.
"I am heartbroken for the family," said New Fairfield First Selectman Susan Chapman in a statement Friday. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family."
Malloy has ordered the flags at half-staff in honor of Lobraico.
"I can't imagine. It's the worst case scenario," said Sherman First Selectman Clay Cope. "God bless him for his service."
According to state officials, 65 Connecticut residents including Lobraico have died since Sept. 11, 2001.
"The loss of this brave young man is a sad reminder that hundreds of Connecticut military men and women are still in danger overseas even as our involvement in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan approaches a conclusion," said Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, in a statement Friday.
New Fairfield officials will be holding a joint candlelight vigil with Sherman for Lobraico on Sunday before the pre-planned 9/11 ceremony. The 9/11 ceremony is expected to begin at 7 p.m.
"I think people should realize that we should never forget 9/11," Chapman said. "We still have men and women in harms way because of 9/11."
Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.