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Vicksburg community remembers Corps of Engineers deputy commander who died June 7

VICKSBURG — The civilians and military gathering at the Vicksburg District Headquarters on East Clay Street Tuesday came to say a final goodbye to a comrade, friend, husband, son, father and brother.

Greg Raimondo served as deputy commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District and later as its chief of public affairs. He died June 7, leaving for many a void they said cannot be replaced.

There were awards to his family: a surveyor’s benchmark, the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service, a resolution from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen declaring Tuesday “Greg Raimondo Day” in Vicksburg and a key to the city for his family.

But the greatest tribute to Raimondo came from friends and co-workers, who gave their thoughts during a memorial service Tuesday morning.

“Truly, Greg has left a mark here; he is the benchmark. He is our point of reference,” said Pat Hemphill, District deputy for programs and project management.

Raimondo divided his time between his job in Vicksburg and his family in St. Louis, Missouri. And while he initially had some misgivings about Vicksburg, Hemphill said, “He came to love Vicksburg and was a better ambassador for the city than I was.”

District Commander Col. Michael Derosier said the Army saying that “everyone is replaceable,” didn’t apply to Raimondo. “Greg was the rare exception; he is irreplaceable,” he wrote in remarks read by Lt. Col. Aaron Wolf, the District’s deputy commander.

“He leaves a hole in our formation that will be very, very difficult to shore up. He did so many things.

“He was the type of person who would strike up a conversation with anyone he encountered, and always had a tendency to put a smile on your face.”

Raimondo, Derosier wrote, was always asking questions and trying to better understand someone’s point of view.

“He was proud to showcase the District, the Corps and the city to the visitors. Greg was, and still is, a vital part and the soul of the Vicksburg District and the Vicksburg community. He never wanted any credit, and if you know where to look, his fingerprints are on everything that helps to make the Vicksburg District truly stand out as exceptional.”

Retired District commander Col. John Cross said Raimondo “was unbelievably patient with the public.

“It was absolutely remarkable; just that fantastic relationship with every single person, no matter if it was a congressman or some farmer wanting to know what was going on, Greg would always give them the right answer or find somebody in the district to give them the right answer.”

Raimiondo’s daughter Katie discussed how he made the most of his time with his family when he was in St. Louis, either grilling outdoors, going out to eat or going on family excursions. Katie, who attends the University of Mississippi, recalled how she and her father cheered for the Rebels during football season.

“My father was my hero,” she said.

“Greg’s smiling down on us, and gregarious as he is, he would be working this crowd; he would love this,” said Doug Kamien with the Army Navy Club.

Kamien, a retired District employee, said Raimondo was always focused on his job and worked to make the District better. He said Raimondo was willing to help with repairs at the Army Navy Club, adding, “He really made a contribution every day; he was a true patriot. He was everywhere.

“Right now, he’s standing in front of Jesus and saying, ‘How can I be of service.’”