Drexel honors student soldier Joseph Maglione III, killed in Kuwait, got a degree after all.

Posted: June 15, 2003

For Lance Cpl. Joseph Maglione III, who aspired to a career in architectural engineering, Drexel University was always his first choice.

"He had all the T-shirts and hats," said his mother, Rosemary Corr, of Audubon in Montgomery County. "He really liked that dragon."

But Maglione, a 22-year-old Marine Corps reservist called up for duty in Iraq, never finished his classwork. Forced to withdraw from Drexel in March when his unit was sent overseas, Maglione died at Camp Coyote in Kuwait on April 1, from a gunshot wound in an incident described by the military as a "noncombat weapon discharge."

Yesterday Drexel honored Maglione with a posthumous bachelor of science degree at the school's 116th Commencement for the College of Engineering.

As Corr blinked back tears, university president Constantine Papadakis noted that Maglione was the first American college student to die during the Iraq conflict. He was a member of Bridge Company B, Sixth Engineer Support Battalion in Folsom, Delaware County.

"We are proud to include Joseph Maglione in the Drexel family of graduates," Papadakis said.

The packed room at the John A. Daskalakis Athletic Center rose for a standing ovation as Drexel provost Harvill Eaton escorted Corr and Joseph Maglione Jr. to the platform, where they received their son's diploma.

"That was tough," Maglione Jr. said after the ceremony. "I think I felt my son. He passed right through me."

Corr and Maglione Jr. described their son as a sociable athlete, who somehow always knew he would study engineering.

"I'd come home from work and there would be a pyramid on the table," said Maglione Jr., of York.

Maglione commuted to the school from Lansdale, sometimes several times a day, to work on engineering projects with classmates. He was looking forward to his co-op, a work-study experience, that would start in the fall, and he had talked often about his forthcoming interviews and job choices, his parents said.

The day proved emotional for Corr, who fortified herself with extra tissues and put on sunglasses to hide her eyes after the ceremony. But she was grateful the Drexel Board of Trustees made the gesture.

"It's nice to be able to celebrate with the students he went to school with," she said.

Contact staff writer Chris Gray at 610-313-8108 or cgray@phillynews.com.

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