Corey Ellen Fefferman, 26, a first lieutenant in the National Guard who had survived a tour of duty in Iraq only two years ago, died July 2, 2011, in East Orange. She grew up in West Orange.
Autopsy results were “pending,” according to Rachel Goemaat, a spokesperson for the Office of the State Medical Examiner in Trenton.
A member of the Bravo 112 Fires Battery, part of the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Fefferman had been stationed in Baghdad from 2008 to 2009. During her tour of duty, described by loving but anxious relatives in an NJJN article in 2009, she also served as liaison for a Bulgarian division of soldiers and as a VIP escort officer, working with senior officers in the Department of Defense and other dignitaries visiting the Theater Internment Facility.
She also had a practice of playing with the Iraqi children who had come to visit detained parents, a philosophy she called her “counter-insurrection.”
Born in El Paso, Texas, Fefferman spent part of her childhood in Florida before her family moved to West Orange. She celebrated becoming a bat mitzva at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange, and graduated from West Orange High School in 2002.
In 2006 Fefferman graduated from the University of Tennessee on a ROTC scholarship; she earned degrees in criminal justice and military science and completed a 2008-09 tour of duty in Iraq with the National Guard.
After returning to New Jersey in 2009, she continued to serve in the National Guard. She worked at the Suburban Hills School in West Orange and volunteered for several months at Jewish Vocational Service of MetroWest in East Orange, providing job-training skills for people with disabilities.
Predeceased by her mother, Annie Reinfeld Fefferman, she is survived by her father, Harry of West Palm Beach, Fla., and his wife, Diane J. Kozma; her brother, Captain Kevin Fefferman of Lawton, Okla. — who served in Iraq 2006-07 — and his wife, Suzanne; her infant niece, Kaylee Anne Fefferman; and her second husband, Andrew O’Connell.
Fefferman is also survived by her aunts and uncles, Ava Reinfeld of Livingston, Larry Reinfeld of Boca Raton, Fla., Martin and Nancy Reinfeld of Livingston, and Carol and Tim Nawrocki of West Orange.
“She was like my daughter,” said Ava Reinfeld, whose sister died when Corey was a young girl. “The whole thing is so surreal to us. It’s like losing our sister all over again.”
Services were held July 7 with arrangements by Bernheim-Apter-Kreitzman Suburban Funeral Chapel, Livingston. At the full military funeral, Fefferman received the State of New Jersey Commendation Medal awarded by Major General Glenn K. Rieth, the adjutant general, and had a full military burial at the Brigadier General Doyle National Military Cemetery in Wrightstown.
“Corey was a beautiful woman who loved all that she met,” wrote her former husband, Sgt. Danny Maldonado, in an e-mail. “She was full of life and loved being an officer in the Army more than anything.” Maldonado is currently deployed in Afghanistan.
He also noted that she came back from Iraq “a totally different person. She would still laugh but she was more serious at the same time…. She came back with a purpose and she knew what it was. She wanted to get her master’s [degree] in anything that would put her in close proximity to children that had lost their mothers. She wanted to help kids who have gotten in trouble and perhaps did not have parents that could help.”
“She was a really sweet person,” Maldonado’s sister, Bellkiss, told NJJN. Although her brother was divorced from Fefferman, she said, she had spoken with her former sister-in-law only six months ago and the two were friends on Facebook. “We all loved Corey.”
“The clients really loved her,” said Wanda Echevarria, Fefferman’s supervisor at JVS, explaining that Fefferman would speak about her military experiences to them. “I’m very sorry that she’s gone.”
Memorial contributions may be made to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Wounded Warriors project, or the Rachel Coalition.