Army Sergeant from NJ killed in Afghanistan

PITMAN, N.J. - August 9, 2011

To his mom and dad, he will always be that sweet little boy, affectionately known as Sandrino.

"He was the smiliest little boy you ever would've seen in your life. He could come in and capture a room in a second," said Dianne Hammond-Plutino, the victim's mother.

She says her son was as strong-willed as he was charming and remembers the day Sandrino decided to fulfill his life-long dream and enlist in the Army.

"He sat down on the bed and said I know mom you're so worried about me getting hurt. You're worried that I might die. I believe in my heart that the day God gave me to you, he knew when he would take me back home," said Hammond-Plutino.

The 28-year-old Army Ranger was killed Monday by enemy fire in Afghanistan.

It happened with just a few weeks left on his sixth tour of duty in the Middle East.

Sergeant Plutino was expected to come home, for good, next month and marry his fiancé, and long-time love, Natalie Layton of Glassboro.

Sandro Plutino, Sandrino's father says you never fully recover from the loss of a child but he's comforted by the notion that his son leaves behind a legacy that any parent would be proud of.

"He was what any American father wants his son to be, loyal and proud. That was Sandrino, said Plutino.

Sandrino is now the second Pitman native to lose his life fighting in the Middle East.

It was nearly seven years ago when Marine Corporal Sean Kelly was killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq.

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