Staff Sgt. Paul A. Sweeney
3rd Battalion, 3rd Special
Forces Group (Airborne)
Based at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Age 32 from Lakeville,
KIA 30 October 2003 during an ambush near Musa, Qalax, Afghanistan
Special Forces Condolences Book
Career Highlights Awards
US Army since 1991
Staff Sergeant Special Forces
2 Tours Afghanistan
1 Tour Iraq
1 Tour Korea
2 Tours Germany
Purple Heart (posthumously)
Bronze Star with ‘V’ Valor
Army Commendation Medal
Army Achievement Medal
Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon
Army Service Ribbon
Expert Infantryman’s Badge
Paul Sweeney was born on May 15, 1971 in Roselle Park, N.J. He was the fourth in a family of 10 children. He grew up and went to school in Roselle Park until the age of 16. At that time Paul’s parents got separated and Paul moved to Lakeville with his dad. He went to Wallenpaupack Highschool for one year before deciding to finish up school back at Roselle Park High School. He graduated high school in 1989. Paul was your everyday guy no different than anyone else and was always considered easygoing and quick to make friends. He loved the New York Yankees, Giants, and New Jersey Devils. He watched the History Channel, listened to heavy-metal music and enjoyed eating his favorite - stromboli with no mushrooms. He drank Miller Lite, chewed Copenhagen snuff and liked playing darts. He also wrestled since he was little and was on his high school wrestling team.
Paul and Kristen met at age 20.
His stepmother, Doreen Sweeney, introduced him to Kristen.
They were married at the Excalibur Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on Jan. 14, 1996.
5 years later they had son Sean followed by Ryan one year later.
Kristen always talked about the devoted husband and soldier and referred to him as the most awesome father you've ever seen. He loved his boys and was happiest when he was with them. They were everything to him. Two things Paul loved were the lake and boats. He would come home, pack up the kids and say "Honey, I am taking my boys…we’ll be back later.” They would spent hours at the lake throwing rocks into the water. Everytime the boys see the lake that is all they want to do.
Paul loved being a soldier. He believed in it. There was nothing he wanted to do more than what he was doing. He lived his life for his family and for his job. His favorite movie was "Black Hawk Down" and took Kristen to see it on their anniversary. Although he loved his job it was obvious he loved Kristen and his family so much more. He would always tell Kristen that if she wanted him out of the army, he would get out. But Kristen knew how much he loved his job and how much it meant to him. Paul said that he was doing this so his kids wouldn’t have to. He wanted them to be doctors or lawyers and he was proud to take responsibility for defending his country and shaping a safer, less uncertain future for his boys.
Staff Sgt. Paul A. Sweeney holds his son after graduating from the Special Forces Qualification Course.
He is survived by his wife, Kristen, and two sons, Ryan, 3, and
Sean, 2. His father, Thomas Sweeney, lives in Kissimmee, Fla., and
his mother, Janet Bowen, resides in Lakeville, Pa.
Paul joined the Army in 1991. He was a tanker for his first two years before switching to infantry. He stayed there until he opted to become a Special Forces soldier. He graduated from the Q course on August 31, 2001, took French language classes for 4 months, followed by SERE school (survival training) for 3 more weeks. Shortly thereafter he would be promoted to Staff Sergeant. Pauly, as his friends referred to him, was one of the most easy-to-get-along with guys you’ll ever meet and you couldn't help but to like him. He had this amazing ability to improve any situation and always treated everyone with respect. He was a strong believer in family, God and his country. Paul was now a US ARMY Special Forces soldier with Alpha Company, 3rd battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group and would lead an honorable career serving two tours in Afghanistan, a tour in Iraq, a tour in South Korea and two tours in Germany. He received the Purple Heart Medal posthumously. He was also awarded the Bronze Star with "V" for Valor and a host of other medals, ribbons and commendations. He would later be referred to as a “proven combat warrior” and a “leader of leaders.”
On August 9, 2003 Paul and Sergeant 1st Class Blake Horst were inducted as Honorary Members of Engine 167 / Ladder 87 at a small ceremony in front of quarters. The story behind the connection between Paul and our firehouse is one of pride, honor and respect. We never imagined the impact it would have on both us and from what his family and friends say, on him as well. Right after Sept 11, 2001 Annadale resident Tom O'Neill found a flag lying in the street covered in mud. He took it home, washed it off and proudly flew it over his home. O'Neill, a good friend and Navy buddy of Paul’s father-in-law passed it off to Paul and Blake. They as well as the rest of Special Forces Alpha Company took this flag with them to Afghanistan and Iraq before presenting it to us. They were so proud and thanked us and the entire Fire Department of New York for all that we have done. They said to us that while we take care of business here at home, they will take care of business overseas. The time we spent with them and their families was unbelievable. There was an instant bond and a mutual respect for what each other did for a living and as the night went on you realized just how great and down to earth these ‘Special Forces’ were. They were just like us – big kids wanting to slide the pole, and they loved what they did for a living. There are no words to describe how much that night meant to us at the firehouse. Paul and Blake came here on their leave and short time home - literally days - before having to go back overseas to active duty. We remained in contact with them even after their visit and had e-mailed Paul just days before everything happened. The flag is now encased and will hang on a memorial wall in the firehouse with pictures and other tokens of appreciation. The Sweeney family will forever have a second home at our firehouse.
Kristen last saw Paul on Sept. 13. He surprised the family on Ryan's birthday. They had a big party for him and the image of Paul running around after the boys and grilling all day is what most want to remember. He left three days later on Kristen's birthday. He called from the plane to tell her he loved her.
Unfortunately, Paul’s family was informed of the bad news that Paul’s group was ambushed and that Paul had been shot during a mission just north of Musa, Qalax in Afghanistan. The family knew something was wrong when the Army chaplain and two soldiers came to the house. On October 30, 2003 – just two months after visiting our firehouse, and one month after seeing his wife and kids - Staff Sgt Paul Sweeney had died from the wounds sustained at that gun fight. The pain of the news obviously was felt in Paul’s immediate family, but the pain traveled worldwide touching the hearts of soldiers and friends everywhere. More than 500 family members, friends, comrades and co-workers of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Paul Sweeney filled St. Thomas More & St. Mary's Church in Lake Ariel to pay their final respects to a man known as much for his love as for his bravery. About 30 comrades from Sgt. Sweeney's 3rd Special Forces Group, stationed in Fort Bragg, N.C., trekked the 600 miles to be by their buddy's side -- most of them drove.
The funeral services were held at Fairview Memorial Park in Elmhurst. They settled on Fairview Memorial Park because of the veterans memorial there but wanted a place somewhere near a lake. Paul would have loved to have been by a lake so his boys could come visit him there. The services included Special Forces Soldiers carrying Paul’s casket, an FDNY Bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace”, a bugle player playing taps, a final blessing, and Sgt. Sweeney's colleagues accorded him full military honors, with seven Special Forces members firing three rifle volleys into the air. Since the funeral, The American Legion in Hamlin,PA renamed their post THE SSG PAUL SWEENEY POST 807.
Paul Sweeney was a person, and by all accounts, a very good one. He is one of a special type of people - who volunteer to do what most of us won't. Paul Sweeney -- like so many others who have fought and died for this country -- believed in what he was doing. He was at least the 40th U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom. He died serving his country, and he deserves to be remembered not as a number, but as a husband and father who made the supreme sacrifice for the country he loved and the family he did not live to raise.
While it is a tragedy Paul’s wife and family and probably Paul himself, would like him to be remembered as someone who was down to earth, fun, loving, easygoing and loved his wife, his kids and his country more than we could ever know.
**Information from SFAHQ.com, The Department of Defense,
Fayetteville Online and The
Associated Press used in this Article.
Return To Index