By Alex McGuire
Communities will always feel deep hits when someone young is killed in combat and the Pitman community took a big hit when Alessandra “Sandrino” Plutino of Pitman was killed in action, on August 8, while serving his sixth tour.
Sandrino was leading his fellow Rangers in an assault when he was killed by enemy gunfire. Plutino, who was only 28, was a Rifle Team Leader in B Company, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. He was called into action for a special mission, Operation Enduring Freedom, on March 7th. Even though he was not supposed to be on a mission in March, he loved serving his country too much to not go back out.
Plutino is remembered by friends and family as a born leader and determined. His fiancé, Natalie Layton, said “He was always the strong one. When he loved something, he really put his mind to it. He loved his country, he loved his family, he loved all of us.”
Plutino was known for his outstanding athletics in high school; he continued with sports when he wrestled for Wilkes College and Western New England College. Coaches, teachers, friends and family members remember the pride that Sandrino took in everything he did. The pride that Plutino had for his country was truly inspiring for his family. Once he turned 18 he wanted to drop out of high school to serve; then on 9/11 he tried to drop out of college, but the persistence of his family to stay in school convinced him to stay. Immediately after graduating college, he enlisted in the Army.
While very little can help console a family after the loss of a loved one, the community reached out in every way possible after Plutino’s tragic death by lending a shoulder to cry on or financial help. As a way to remember Sandrino and help raise money in his memory, two of Pitman’s baseball teams recently held a fundraiser. The two NJIBL’s championship teams held the first Sandrino Plutino Classic at Alcyon Lake Park on October 21st. The tickets were $10 each and all the proceeds went to a scholarship set up in memory of Sandrino Plutino.
The game raised over $2,000 for the scholarship and for the families of other fallen heroes too. The game itself was filled with energy and an overall sense of community. The NJIBL’s 35+ Champions Pitman Blaze won 8-6 over the NJIBL’s 25+ Champions Pitman Astros.
The memory of Sandrino Plutino will live forever in Pitman as the community comes together to aid military families and make the pain more bearable. No matter the circumstances, when a family is in need in Pitman, there will always be a helping hand.