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11/22/2017 10:05:29 PM
Posted: 9/24/2004 12:52:48 AM EST
How can you top this?
Widow Enlists

Mell Zangara is coping with her husband's death by becoming a soldier.
By SHAWN LEDINGTON
Daily Record/Sunday News
Thursday, September 23, 2004

Paul Kuehnel - YDR

Many times in her 16-month marriage to Spc. Nicholas Zangara, Mell Zangara would climb into his military uniform and prance around their apartment as though she was on a catwalk.

"Don't I look hot, baby?" she'd ask him. "Wouldn't you like to see me come home to you in this?"

Nicky would give her that look, the one that told her to give him a break.

"You're not joining the Army," he'd say.

Before marrying Nicky in March 2003, Mell was at rock bottom. Out of high school, but not going to college, she filled her days with drugs, alcohol and partying while bouncing from job to job.

She got to know Nicky through an Internet chat room. He inspired her to change her life.

"If I want a chance with him, I'm going to have to change," she decided.

She wanted to be a better person for him. And she could tell he became a better person for her, too. He was promoted; his personality became softer, nicer.

She and 21-year-old Nicky spent many hours on the phone and, after their first meeting, married. She moved to Germany, where he was stationed, to be with him.

Mell soon began talking about joining the Army as her own career opportunity. She even completed the written and physical tests and was planning to become a parachute rigger so she could learn to jump out of airplanes.

Nicky, however, felt their relationship would suffer from the potential time apart with deployments and training.

Then in February, he was sent to Iraq, taking his uniforms with him.

In July, he was killed by a roadside bomb.

Suddenly, at 20 years old, Mell was a widow.

But she never lost interest in putting on her own military uniform.

In the last two months, Mell has been tearing herself up inside over Nicky's death. The grief caused her to shed 25 pounds.

She longs to feel the camouflaged fabric of his Army uniform next to her skin again.

Some days are worse than others.

She was having a really bad "Nicholas Day," earlier this month.

She wasn't angry, just intensely sad — a hard to explain feeling, a feeling only another war widow might understand.

In that mood, she drove to the Army recruiter's office and signed on the dotted line — the final step she needed to enlist.

Mell's parents, whom she lives with in Jackson Township and calls her best friends, weren't thrilled with the idea that their daughter enlisted.

She knew they wouldn't be, so she didn't tell them until things were said and done.

Now, reluctantly, they are happy for her and proud.

They just hope she isn't sent to Iraq.

"Like any parent wants their child sent to Iraq right now," Mell said.

Monday, when Nicky's belongings arrived from Iraq, became another one of those bad days. Letters, cards, photos and other special love notes she sent him since February, when he was deployed, were stacked and organized among the rubble of compact discs, DVDs, Game Boy games and other toys.

Everything but his uniform was inside, and she's not sure why.

In the weeks and months to come, she knows she'll still have bad Nicky days.

She'll suffer through them. She must.

She'll proudly climb into that Army combat uniform every day.

She'll stand at attention in an Army formation. She'll march, left, right, left, right. She'll run hard, climb fast and crawl on the gritty ground.

She'll tuck and fold the sheets of her bed, dress orderly in uniform and follow superiors' strict, barking orders.

And as every bead of sweat drips down her neck and with every heavy step she takes in those nine weeks of basic training, she will be motivated like few others in her class.

She'll be energized by Nicky, who took similar steps when he joined the Army in March 2001. She'll envision how he squeezed his arm muscles to finish a final push up, breathed heavily while jumping obstacles, skillfully maneuvered climbing walls.

And, if she ends up in Iraq, she'll find out just how life must have been for him in the weeks leading up to the day when a roadside bomb blew up the truck he was driving and killed him instantly.

When she signed up at the recruiter's office, she chose to spend her four-year enlistment in the military police, which she says is the closest thing to being on the front lines for a woman.

She doesn't want to be a nurse, a caretaker or stuck in some office filing papers.

She prefers to be up close to the enemy, the one that took her husband's life.

"I just want to go fight," she said.

She wants to finish what Nicky started.

It's not about revenge, she said. It's about finding out what her husband went through. Mell figures if her husband could handle war, so can she.

But Mell isn't trying to act tough.

She admits she's scared to death and that there will be times when she regrets the decision she's made.

But, she said, she has Nicky's presence with her daily, a feeling she said will give her the extra "umph" she'll need to survive boot camp and, potentially, war.
"I know he's going to take care of me," she said. "He won't let anything happen to me."

FOR THE TROOPS
Army Spc. Nicholas "Nicky" Zangara, 21, was killed July 24 when a roadside bomb set by Iraqis blew up near his Humvee in Tikrit. A soldier in the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, he was the only soldier killed in the attack. He was from the Philadelphia area.
His wife, Mell Zangara, has worked at York Graphic Services, and her father Mike Cook works there. This month, the company sent 24 packages filled with goodies, including a PlayStation 2 that her husband ordered while serving in Iraq, to his unit, which is still serving in Iraq.
Mell Zangara, who lives in Jackson Township with her parents, said the boxes are filled with many of her late husband's favorite things, such as Easy Mac. They also sent many cans of Chef Boyardee, toothbrushes, baby wipes, powdered drink mixture
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 12:56:17 AM EST
Holy cow...

I thought this sort of thing only happened in movies and novels...
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 1:02:52 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/24/2004 1:06:33 AM EST by Charging_Handle]
God bless this young woman and keep her safe as she goes forward in life trying to find her purpose here and to find some manner of inner peace.



While a sad story, she has the attitude we ALL need to share. Instead of giving up, situations like this need to motivate us to do even more and try even harder. I think this young woman's attitude is a model for how we should all deal with the stresses that come from war. And yes, that includes all of, even civilians. Sometimes the stress for civilians is no less great, just different. The simple fact that we are not there leaves us feeling helpless.

Aparently this woman no longer wants to feel helpless. And she feels a need to avenge her husband's death. I only hope she can be fortunate enough to get the evil bastard who detonated the bomb that killed her husband in the sights of her M-16 if she goes over there.
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 1:03:56 AM EST
Wild.

Death Wish?
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 1:10:07 AM EST

Originally Posted By rayra:
Wild.

Death Wish?



I don't think it's so much a death wish as it is a personal need she feels to walk in her husbands shoes. This is a fairly common reaction to the death of a loved one. Sometimes those left behind feel the need to carry on what their lost loved one did. Some people take over businesses. Some people follow in their footsteps. I feel this is mostly what she feels at this point. She wants to do the things he did, see what he saw, feel what he felt and carry on what he was trying to do.
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 1:18:27 AM EST
What a story ! Most never experience that kind of love. I am impressed and I wish her the very best.
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 1:20:38 AM EST
I got a feeling she is going to wake up one day and ask herself, "WTF have I got myself into"??

And it will be a little late.

Link Posted: 9/24/2004 2:41:39 AM EST

Before marrying Nicky in March 2003, Mell was at rock bottom. Out of high school, but not going to college, she filled her days with drugs, alcohol and partying while bouncing from job to job.



Mell's parents, whom she lives with in Jackson Township and calls her best friends, weren't thrilled with the idea that their daughter enlisted.


Her parents werent happy that she turned her life around and joined the Army?
Must be liberals.

Kharn
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 2:46:25 AM EST

Originally Posted By CavVet:
I got a feeling she is going to wake up one day and ask herself, "WTF have I got myself into"??

And it will be a little late.




After sharing Army life with her husband for 18 months?
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 2:53:28 AM EST
Speachless.
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 2:55:11 AM EST
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 3:40:59 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/24/2004 3:41:19 AM EST by Spade]

Originally Posted By Kharn:
Her parents werent happy that she turned her life around and joined the Army?
Must be liberals.

Kharn




There's also the fact that her rather new husband just got killed. That might make them all nervous.


Good for her, imo.
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 3:47:31 AM EST
Wow.

Someone so grief stricken that they decided to DO SOMETHING.

Go figure.....
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 3:51:42 AM EST
Damn!

getting kinda misty
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 3:57:44 AM EST
Good for her.
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 4:26:20 AM EST
Hmmmm, reminds me of another great American..... Molly Pitcher

This kind of act and commitment is what defines an American, salute!

Link Posted: 9/24/2004 4:52:06 AM EST
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 5:02:53 AM EST
WOW
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 5:05:32 AM EST
Needs an extensive psych eval... BEFORE she heads to basic training.

With her past history of drugs, marrying someone she just met, then having to cope with his death... she may not be mentally stable enough to be in our military.

It's a cool fairy tale story but we need to think about the rest of our troops that will have to work around her.

If she hasn't been evaluated, I would be very suprised.
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 5:07:27 AM EST
God Bless and be safe!
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 5:07:57 AM EST

Originally Posted By TomJefferson:

Originally Posted By CavVet:
I got a feeling she is going to wake up one day and ask herself, "WTF have I got myself into"??

And it will be a little late.




Been there done that!

Tj



I was about to say...

Millions of Americans join the military and sooner or later wind up asking themselves "what did I get myself into", and the overwhelmingly vast majority of them are better off in long run. Joining the military isn't the worst mistake a person could make.
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