A U.S. Marine corporal from Milford died from hostile gunfire Friday while on foot patrol in Fallujah, the U.S. Defense Department said Saturday.
He became the third Marine with ties to the company to be killed in action since the unit was deployed in March.
Pierson joined the U.S. Marine Corps in December 2003. He was wounded in the arms and legs by shrapnel from an insurgent grenade in May. He was treated at Camp Fallujah and awarded the Purple Heart.
A full-time student at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Pierson postponed his studies to go to Iraq, military officials said. The unit is scheduled to return to Connecticut in October.
Milford Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. visited Pierson's family Saturday. "I expressed the condolences from the city of Milford," he said. "Once the time comes, this city will remember him in a big way. We are known as a small city with a big heart."
For now, Richetelli said, the family asks for privacy.
"The family is in shock and is trying to process this," he said.
Pierson's profile on MySpace.com mentioned the Marine Corps more than once. He said he thought of his staff sergeant as a "hero," and he also wrote "Marines 4 life" at the top of his page.
Pierson, a 2003 graduate of Joseph A. Foran High School in Milford, was also a fan of Elton John, Britney Spears and Hilary Duff, according to the profile. He had an obvious sense of humor and a personality.
"I think I'm cooler than you," Pierson wrote. "I'd like to meet cute girls."
Flags were lowered to half-staff in Milford and at the state Capitol in Pierson's honor.
A tree in front of Milford City Hall that was lit to honor men and women in service the day the Iraq war started in March 2003 will be darkened until after Pierson's funeral, Richetelli said. Pierson is the only U.S. serviceman from Milford killed in the war, he said.
He is survived by his father, Eric C. Pierson; his mother, Beverley A. Pierson; and 11-year-old brother Ethan.
Marine Capt. Brian S. Letendre, who lived in New Britain while serving as the Charlie Company's inspector-instructor in Plainville, died in combat in Iraq in May. Earlier this month, Lance Cpl. Kurt E. Dechen, of Springfield, Vt., was shot and killed while on foot patrol. He died on his 24th birthday.
Contact Hilda Muñoz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information from an AP report is included in this story