Ironhorse soldier follows uncle’s footsteps to Cav

Pfc. Lenny Costa, a cavalry scout with 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, searches through his uncle’s Korean War case files June 27. Costa enlisted in 2010 in honor of his uncle Sgt. Anthony Costa, seen below, who was classified as a prisoner of war during the Korean War in 1950.

Courtesy photo

“I regret that I must confirm my recent telegram in which you were informed your son, Cpl. Anthony E. Costa, Infantry, has been reported missing in action in Korea since 2 November 1950.”

Unfortunately, Dominick and Nancy Costa, Anthony’s parents, were among many parents who received this type of condolence letter from the Adjutant General of the Army during the Korean War.

Sgt. Anthony Costa, posthumously promoted, was among thousands of Americans who enlisted to support their country during the Korean War.

At 19, Anthony served as an infantryman with 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. Army records indicate he was captured by enemy forces on Nov. 2, 1950, south of Unsan, Korea, and classified as a prisoner of war. He later died of exhaustion and disease.

Although, the Costa family was devastated by the loss of a brother, son and nephew, it did not stop Anthony’s nephew, Pfc. Lenny Costa, from following his footsteps 63 years later.

“Growing up, I had my uncle’s picture and hat next to my bed, and I knew I wanted to join the Army,” said Lenny, a cavalry scout assigned to the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

Although Lenny knew one day he would enlist, he didn’t follow his dream right away. At 18 he was employed as a bouncer at New York nightclubs; two years later he moved to Tampa, Fla., becoming a disc jockey and body guard for visiting celebrities.

After an incident at work, Lenny, 31, made a life-changing decision to follow his childhood dream of joining the Army.

“I went to the recruiter and told her I wanted to join,” Lenny said.

Although Lenny came from a line of infantrymen, he chose to become a cavalry scout.

Growing up, Lenny said his father never really expressed emotion but told him he was proud of him.

“Both of my parents were supportive,” he said. “My mom cried and got a dog. My dad told me for the first time he was proud of me.

“I told the recruiter the story about my uncle and how I wanted to be in the (1st Cavalry Division) because of him,” Lenny said. “She told me she would do what she could.”

While attending One Station Unit Training at Fort Knox, Ky., Lenny told everyone he was expecting orders to the 1st Cavalry Division, but as he was nearing the end of his cycle, he was the only soldier left without orders and his hopes were falling. “Everyone had their orders except me, then my drill sergeant came out,” Lenny said. “He called me over and said, ‘Welcome to the Cav.’ I was excited.”

He arrived to the “Garryowen” Squadron in February 2010. “(Command Sgt. Maj. Mervyn Ripley) asked what I did before I joined the Army and when I told him I was a bouncer in Florida I landed a position on (the commander’s personal security detail),” Lenny said.

Lenny’s unit deployed to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, in 2011. Later that year, the brigade transitioned to Camp Buehring, Kuwait. Upon returning from his deployment, Lenny was diagnosed with severe post traumatic stress disorder and told he would be medically retired.

About a year later, the annual 1st Cavalry Division Reunion was approaching and Lenny remembered his uncle. He attended the reunion where he met Korean War veterans who served with his uncle. He also received paperwork in regard to his uncle’s remains, historical information on his whereabouts, and even his uncle’s posthumous award.

Although Lenny’s time with the Army was cut short, he is proud he was able to serve with the same team as his uncle. “I did it for my family,” Lenny said. “I feel like instead of bringing one Costa home, I’m going to bring home two.”

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.