Honoring Jamie Riley: Saying Goodbye & Remembering

I want to borrow a poignant Joseph Campbell quote from Joe Perrotto:  “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”  Last week, our community lost a hero and member of our family in a tragic accident while he was so selflessly serving our nation. The pain we feel is proportional to the love we have We honor Jamie by remembering his sacrifice and the impact he had on so many of our lives. I ask that our fire company family joins together in presence and support of the Riley’s during their time of mourning.

Fair Haven Fire Department Chief Christopher Schrank

Jamie Riley’s family, friends and Fair Haven hometown community are mourning the loss of a soldier proudly serving his country and a young man dear to all who knew him.

While the sorrow over the sudden, tragic loss of U.S. Army Pfc. Riley has blanketed the nation, Gov. Phil Murphy has ordered that here in New Jersey, Jamie Riley’s home state, flags be flown at half staff at all state buildings and facilities on Monday, Feb. 4, the day of Riley’s funeral.

I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Jamie Riley, a dedicated servicemember from New Jersey. Jamie was selfless in his service to our nation, sacrificing his life to protect the freedom of his fellow Americans. Tammy and I extend our sincerest condolences to Pfc. Riley’s family and friends in this difficult time.”

NJ Gov. Phil Murphy

And at home in Fair Haven, where Jamie Riley grew up, a group has organized a purple ribbon campaign dubbed Operation Purple Ribbon. People gathered on Thursday night at Umberto’s to craft hundreds of ribbons secured with flag pins as a show of honor and thanks to U.S. Army Pfc. Riley. All are invited to keep crafting, wearing and distributing ribbons.

The funeral is slated to begin with a visitation from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Tower Hill Presbyterian Church, Red Bank. The funeral service will follow at 3 p.m.

The following is Jamie’s obituary, composed by his family

Private First Class Jamie Riley, 21, of Fair Haven, New Jersey followed his heart from a young age to serve in the United States Military.

He enlisted into the Army on Jan. 23, 2018, after attending Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a cavalry scout, reconnaissance soldier stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, where he was assigned to the 1st Armored Division, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

On the evening of Jan. 22, 2019, Jamie along with another soldier were both fatally injured in a Stryker vehicle accident during a training exercise. Although his time was tragically cut short, his prestigious awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Air Assault Badge, Combat and Special Skill Badge, Basic Marksmanship Badge, and Bar, Weapon: Rifle Expert.

A 2011 graduate of Knollwood School in Fair Haven and a 2015 graduate of Red Bank Catholic High School, Jamie was known as a natural leader. He excelled in football, track and field, and practiced Tae Kwon Do achieving his third-degree black belt.

Jamie was an avid outdoorsman who loved to exercise and train intensely with military firearms. He was also an animal lover, who loved all of his boxer dogs immensely.

Jamie’s mother was born in Scotland of Scottish parents and he was intensely proud of his Scottish heritage, even teaching himself how to play the bagpipes.

Jamie will be deeply missed by his parents Carolyn and Carl Riley, his younger sister Cassidy Riley, grandparents Dr. James F. S. and Noreen Reid of Keerbergen, Belgium, and John and Lorraine Riley of Middletown, NJ, and his best friend Christopher Appezzato of Fair Haven, along with multiple other close relatives and friends on both sides of the Atlantic.

Jamie will always be remembered for his lovable personality, hardworking, helpful ways, generosity, extreme kindness, and most importantly his good-natured smile that could light up the darkest room.

Interment will be private at Arlington National Cemetery. 

In lieu of flowers please make a memorial donation to the Fisher House Foundation at fisherhouse.org. The Fisher House Foundation builds comfort homes where military & veterans’ families can stay free of charge, while a loved one is in the hospital. The Thompson Memorial Home, Red Bank, NJ has been entrusted with the arrangements.