Deer Park Auto Shop and Long Island GTO Club to Restore Fallen Soldier’s Pontiac

(PressZoom) - DEER PARK – Pauls Rods & Restos are rebuilding the Pontiac of a local soldier killed in Afghanistan.

Major Jeffrey Calero of Queens died October 29, 2007 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle while he was on patrol in the city of Kajaki in southern Afghanistan. He was 34.

Calero, a classic car enthusiast, had been working on restoring a 1970 Pontiac GTO convertible that he had purchased 10 years earlier.

Paul DiMauro, owner of Paul’s Rods and Restos in Deer Park, said he hopes to present the finished car to Calero’s family at the GTO Club’s annual Memorial Day Car-B-Que Car Show on May 17 at Crab Meadow Beach in New York.

DiMauro, who specializes in classic car and hot rod restoration, is donating the labor for the project, while the Long Island GTO Club is collecting donations to cover the cost of the parts. DiMauro has also sought the help of other sponsors.

“We’re going to build the car the way Jeffrey wanted it built,” said DiMauro. “The car is in remembrance of him.”

DiMauro said he first met Calero’s family last May during a dedication held in the soldier’s honor at the GTO club’s Memorial Day show. After hearing the story, DiMauro said he felt moved to help the family carry out the soldier’s wishes.

“To say that we’re grateful and thrilled is an understatement,” said Calero’s sister, Joyce Crespo of Westbury.

Family members said the car was Calero’s prized possession, but it needed extensive repairs.

“He had it for 10 years and he wasn’t even close to finishing it, but that was his dream,” said Crespo.

Calero was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Queens. He graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY in 1995 with a degree in mechanical engineering.

He served six years active duty in the Army, reaching the rank of lieutenant, and was promoted to captain after training as an Army ranger. In 2001, he earned the coveted ‘Green Beret’ distinction after completing Special Forces training. In 2003 and again in 2007, he was deployed to Afghanistan while serving in the National Guard.

The army promoted him posthumously to the rank of major. His numerous awards include the Bronze Star Medal for Valor and the Purple Heart.

Paul’s Rods and Restos has done classic car and hot rod restorations on Long Island for more than 26 years. The shop is located at 131 Brook Ave. in Deer Park.

The Long Island GTO Club of New York ( ) is a Pontiac enthusiasts’ club with members in the New York metropolitan area.

For more information on the Major Jeff's build or to become a sponsor, please contact Paul DiMauro at ( 631 ) 433-5205 or ( 631 ) 665-RODS.

For information about donating to the rebuilding of Major Jeff's GTO, contact the Long Island GTO Club President Amy Perciballi at ( 516 ) 469-7188 or



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