Darren Manzella | Deaths

Gay Former Army Sergeant Darren Manzella, a Powerful Voice in the Battle to Repeal 'DADT', Has Died

ManzellaCondolences are pouring in on the Facebook page of former Army Sergeant Darren Manzella, who served two tours of duty in Iraq and spoke out against the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy. He died in a car accident near Rochester, NY Thursday night.

The Democrat and Chronicle reports:

Cpl. John Helfer of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, said the incident began as a two-car crash on the westbound lanes of the highway in Pittsford, when one car sideswiped another car about 8:30 p.m. Helfer did not identify the man killed.

The man (Manzella) stopped his car in the middle lane of I-490, got out and started pushing it from behind, Helfer said. A sport utility vehicle rear-ended the car, pinning the man between the two vehicles.

He was pronounced dead at the scene, Helfer said. The other two involved drivers were taken to Strong Memorial Hospital with minor injuries.

Manzella's father said he learned of his son's death online and his calls to police have not been returned.

Manzella was a brave, powerful and important voice in the battle to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", speaking out about his sexuality when it was taboo to do so. It led to his discharge.

SLDN wrote at the time of his discharge:

"The Iraq war veteran was the first openly gay active duty service member to speak with the media while serving inside a war zone....Manzella, 30, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2002 and was twice deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While under fire on the streets of Baghdad, he provided medical care to his fellow soldiers, Iraqi National Guardsmen and civilians. He was awarded the Combat Medical Badge, and also received several other awards recognizing his courage and service."

Watch Manzella's appearance on 60 Minutes in 2007, AFTER THE JUMP...

Our thoughts go out to Manzella's husband, family, and friends, and we give thanks for his courage and service.

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  1. enjoy a well-earned rest, vanguard.

    he didn't just serve his country, he opened the doors for others, and put himself on the line, the FRONT LINE, to do so.

    challenges in life, well met.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Aug 30, 2013 2:12:59 PM

  2. He was killed in a car crash in upstate New York. He will be remembered as a brave soldier on the front lines of war and LGBTQ equality.

    Posted by: Mark | Aug 30, 2013 2:15:52 PM

  3. This really sucks. He was a loud voice for the repeal of DADT and a great guy.

    Posted by: Derek Sparks | Aug 30, 2013 2:17:27 PM

  4. My deepest heartfelt condolences to his friends and family. A hero taken away too soon. This makes me extremely sad...

    Posted by: MickyFlip | Aug 30, 2013 2:22:38 PM

  5. And I believe he was married to his husband Javier just last month? So very sad.

    Posted by: Mark | Aug 30, 2013 2:24:33 PM

  6. Very sad. RIP. Condolences to his love ones.

    Posted by: Matt27 | Aug 30, 2013 2:26:22 PM

  7. Absolutely heart crushing

    Posted by: Mike C. | Aug 30, 2013 2:27:04 PM

  8. Rest in Peace hero. My condolences to his husband? and loved ones. What a sad loss for our community.

    Posted by: John Simpson | Aug 30, 2013 2:28:23 PM

  9. This is so sad.

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | Aug 30, 2013 2:29:46 PM

  10. Such heartbreaking news. Thanks for all you did in your all too short time on this earth. You lived and died a hero. Rest In Peace, Sergeant Manzella.

    Posted by: Ron | Aug 30, 2013 2:30:44 PM

  11. Very saddened over this news. I salute Darren's courage and thank him for all he did in his remarkable life. May God be with you.

    Posted by: Rafael | Aug 30, 2013 2:40:22 PM

  12. Horrid news. Lovely man.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Aug 30, 2013 2:42:19 PM

  13. such sad news...a hero several times over...

    Posted by: Mitch | Aug 30, 2013 2:47:59 PM

  14. Shocking news. Even stopping on the side of the road can be very dangerous because drivers behind you aren't necessarily paying attention.

    Posted by: anon | Aug 30, 2013 3:06:00 PM

  15. Rest in Peace, Hero.

    Posted by: Kile Ozier | Aug 30, 2013 3:21:40 PM

  16. so very sad - Rest In Peace Darren and Thank You for your service

    Posted by: ACe | Aug 30, 2013 3:22:23 PM

  17. "After the jump" link is broken. And the video underneath the article is about Prince William & Kate.

    Posted by: Jay | Aug 30, 2013 3:22:54 PM

  18. Tragic. RIP Srgnt. Manzella. Condolences to his family and friends.

    Posted by: Joel V | Aug 30, 2013 3:33:29 PM

  19. I did a small tribute to Sgt. Manzella on my new Facebook page celebrating interracial gay love stories. His husband, Javier, was from Costa Rica.


    Posted by: Mark | Aug 30, 2013 3:45:43 PM

  20. One blessing, no wife and children left behind, just condolences from single men. RIP

    Posted by: Tim | Aug 30, 2013 3:46:30 PM

  21. Very sad. Many merits and much metta to an American hero.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Aug 30, 2013 3:47:32 PM

  22. Why is it only the good die young and evil bigots live forever?

    Posted by: Kevin | Aug 30, 2013 4:04:54 PM

  23. Never get out of your car when it stalled in the freeway, never. Call 911, wait for police, they will call a tow truck for you. I saw someone being ran over when he exited his car to check on the driver of the car he crashed into.

    This is so sad.

    Posted by: Drew | Aug 30, 2013 4:12:48 PM

  24. Oh, no. Just.... no.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Aug 30, 2013 4:14:46 PM

  25. That's very sound advice, Drew. I know my jaw hit the floor when I read about the accident on Darren's Facebook page. My condolences to his family & his husband, Javier.

    Posted by: JerzeeMike | Aug 30, 2013 4:23:04 PM

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