Martin C. Evans

Afghanistan 69th Vet a Smithtown Fatality

In Uncategorized on February 27, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Seamus Byrne survived a bomb explosion while serving with the 69th Infantry Regiment in Afghanistan. But the father of two could not dodge death early Sunday on Smithtown’s Main Street.

Seamus Byrne, receiving Purple Heart at January 2009 ceremony at Bay Shore armory. (Newsday photo, Charlie Eckert)

Byrne was hit by a passing car moments after leaving Napper Tandy’s, a local bar where he had spent several hours celebrating his 33rd birthday with his wife and friends, Newsday is reporting. He was pronounced dead at Stony Brook University Medical Center at 1:45 a.m..

In January, 2009, Byrne returned from a deployment in Afghanistan, during which he earned a Purple Heart for a concussion and other injuries suffered when a suicide bomber attacked the Humvee Byrne was riding in.

“There are a lot of other guys that deserve this kind of recognition,” Byrne said then during a medal ceremony at the National Guard armory in Bay Shore. “But it’s an honor.”

Byrne was struck near Lawrence Ave. shortly after leaving the bar, when he turned back across Main Street to say goodbye to someone. The driver of the car, Michael Armentano, 24, of Smithtown, has not been charged.

Word of Byrne’s death shook members of the closely-knit community of soldiers and family members associated with the 69th Infantry, which has sent soldiers to both Iraq and Afghanistan from armories in Huntington, Bay Shore and Freeport.

Eric Farina, a former 69th sergeant, said he felt he got to know Byrne particularly well when the two men shared conversation during a guard shift in Afghanistan.

“He revealed himself to be a passionate patriot, father, husband and family man,” recalled Farina, of East Northport. “He loved his wife and (children) with an uncommon intensity and seemed fiercely protective of them both.”

Jean Dudenhoffer, who had helped care for the spouses and children of deployed troops while serving as an organizer of the regiment’s Family Readiness Group, was stunned when told of Byrne’s death. Byrne had a son, aged 10 and a daughter, 3.

“I just can’t talk right now,” said Dudenhoffer, whose son Mark served with Byrne during the Afghanistan deployment. “He was one of the boys.”

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  1. So very, very sad. I feel for his family. When I was younger, someone across the street from us, Dennis Sullivan, A Vietnam War vet, met the same fate. I remember the whole block being stunned and saddened….

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