On Friday April 3, 2020, SGM (Ret.) Gary P. Fortunato passed away suddenly in his home.
He was born to Paul and Ida Fortunato on September 6, 1947 a native of Union City and Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. Gary is survived by his wife, Carol (Morrow) Fortunato; four children: Damian Daniels and wife Deena, Amy Fortunato, John Fortunato and wife Jen, and Judy Fortunato; six grandchildren: Gary, Caeleb, Darius, Donovan, Rosalee and Victoria; five siblings: Joseph, Patricia, Paul, Barbara, and Robert; and many extended family members.
SGM Fortunato was drafted into the United States Army in 1967. Upon his return, he enlisted and thirty years later, in 1997, retired. During his 30 year military career, he served as a Team Chief for a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol, a Platoon Sergeant, an Operations NCO, a Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical NCO, a Senior Drill Sergeant, a First Sergeant, and a Sergeant Major. His First Sergeant positions included tours in the 1/161st and 1/16th Infantry in Vietnam; the 1/38th Infantry in South Korea, the 2/36th Infantry in Germany, and USAG Fort Devens in Massachusetts. Following graduation from the Sergeants Major Academy, he served as Sergeant Major for NATO Landforces and USAREUR in Germany; the 112th Military Intelligence Brigade, the 402nd SOD, and Combat & Combat Support Battalion III Corps at Fort Devens, MA; the Office of the Secretary of Defense NATO Nuclear Policy; and Cadet Command's Third Brigade.
Upon his retirement from Active Duty, SGM Fortunato joined the Patriot Battalion as a contractor. He continued to serve in this role for 23 years, specializing as a Operations Specialist and Military Science Instructor for the Army ROTC program.
His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit Bronze Star with V Device; the Defense Meritorious Service Medal; the Meritorious Service Medal (six awards); the Army Commendations Medal (three awards, the Drill Sergeant Badge; the Good Conduct Medal (ten awards) and The Order of Saint Maurice.
Gary had a passion for gardening. He loved reading his gardening magazines to get inspiration for the many little gardens he had throughout the yard. He often could be found puttering around the yard, weeding and filling up the bird feeders. Sometimes, he even cut the neighbor’s grass. He loved spending time at the shore relaxing in the sun and body surfing with his kids and grandkids. He knew how to enjoy the simple things in life: family, friends, food, drink and conversation. He loved spending time with his grandchildren in the pool. He was known for his quick wit, his infectious smile, and his kind and compassionate spirit.
Services will be arranged at a later date with full United States Army Military Honors.