United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant • Line of Duty Death: July 17, 2019

United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant and NYPD Sergeant Joseph Cancelino passed away on July 17, 2019 after his battle with service-connected cancer.

Cancelino was born in the Bronx, New York and raised in Centereach, New York. He grew up in an Italian family where he spent most of his time with his parents, sisters, and cousins. They were often found playing outside on their block with their neighborhood friends. Family was very important to the Cancelino family, so they often spent time together over family dinners and holidays. Additionally, Cancelino enjoyed playing football and baseball, as well as spending time fishing, boating, and at the beach. He and his wife, Gina, met through a mutual friend in 2002 while he was stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. After meeting in person while he was home for weekend leave, their story began.

Driven by his patriotic demeanor and a wish to serve his country, Cancelino enlisted in the USMC after graduating from high school in 1986. His goal was to ensure the rights of all Americans remain protected while striving to reach the rank of Gunnery Sergeant, which he achieved. Cancelino served in the USMC for 20 honorable years before retiring in 2006. In 2005, he accomplished his lifelong dream of becoming an NYPD officer, always committed to protect his community, provide them with feelings of stability and security, and maintain a strong bond between himself and the people he pledged to protect. Additionally, he wanted to make a positive impact on the youth he encountered and created relationships with while policing. Using his incredible leadership skills, Cancelino rose to Sergeant as well as Counterterrorism Sergeant. Cancelino loved the camaraderie he experienced in both the military and police department. He was passionate about protecting and serving his country and community, and felt a sense of belonging and pride doing both of his jobs. Throughout his over 30 years of service in the USMC and NYPD, Cancelino was awarded with two Navy Achievement Medals, a Combat Action Ribbon, Meritorious Service award, a Presidential Unit Citation, Officer of the Year, numerous Officer of the Month awards, as well as many other awards and accolades. In January of 2017, he was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer attributed to his service in the military. After two-and-a-half difficult years of treatments and trials, he lost his battle in July of 2019. Due to the passing of the PACT Act, Cancelino’s death was confirmed to be service-connected in January of 2023.

Gina currently resides in New York with her children and pets. She is an avid New York Islanders fan, enjoys going to movies with her daughters, going to Disney with her daughters, and spending time with friends and family. Gina advocates with Burnpits360, a veterans service organization, which was instrumental in the passing of the Pact Act in August of 2022. They continue to work and ensure the implementation of the legislation, work toward new necessary legislation to assist veterans, as well as to educate and empower burn pit-exposed veterans. In the future, Gina is eager to watch her children grow, heal, and thrive while doing what they love to do, as well as ensuring that she is healthy and healed herself. The support from the Tunnel to Towers Foundation is allowing Gina to focus on taking care of her children and not have to carry the financial burden of a mortgage. She is able to continue with the plan she and her husband set in place for their lives and their children’s lives. Finally, Gina would like others to know that Cancelino was first and foremost a father, which is what made him the most proud. He loved his children more than anything. He served his country and community with pride. He was funny, honorable, charismatic, and had a larger-than-life personality. Although his passing left a void in his family’s hearts, they continue to keep his memory alive by talking about him daily, often with a smile or laugh.

United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant and NYPD Officer Joseph Cancelino is survived by his loving wife, Gina, and his two beautiful children.