Trudy Corma, 74, said she learned a lot about her son at his funeral.
A Wenonah resident, Corma remembers being approached by a young man who told her that he graduated from West Point thanks to her child, Salvatore Corma.
When the two were students there together, the young man went into class one day and said, "That's it, I've had it, I can't do this anymore. This is too tough." Afterward, Corma approached his classmate, put his arm around him, and the conversation that ensued motivated the young man to push on.
A young woman, who went to grade school with him at St. Margaret Regional School in Woodbury Heights, told Trudy Corma of finding the true meaning of "gentleman" in eighth grade. The woman related how they once were in the schoolyard together when it started to rain.
"She said, 'Salvatore took his jacket off and put it on me so I wouldn't get wet,' " Trudy Corma recalled last week as officials announced an effort to name the local post office after her son.
In April 2010, First Lt. Salvatore Corma was killed in Afghanistan.
According to news reports, when his patrol spotted an IED, Salvatore Corma volunteered to mark its location for the explosive ordnance disposal crew. He ordered the others to move away and, as he was carrying out the task, the mine detonated.
He was 24.
Since his death, those who knew him in and around Wenonah have worked to keep his memory alive.
A street has been named after him in Deptford. The high school he attended in Richland, Atlantic County, has dedicated a memorial garden to him. Now, U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D., N.J.), whose predecessor Rob Andrews had nominated Corma to West Point, is pushing to name the post office in Deptford after him.
"I thought this would be something good for the next generation and the generation after. When they go to the post office, they'll ask, 'Who was Sal Corma?' " Norcross said. "What he did was save 19 other lives that day."
Trudy Corma, a nurse, described her son as encouraging and generous, and as someone who would quietly "champion the underdog."
"If somebody was having trouble integrating with the group for whatever reason, Sal would somehow make it that, all of the sudden, this person was included, without it being obvious, without anybody knowing that he was doing that," she said.
Bob Cahall, 30, said Corma, his best friend since second grade, was "a very selfless person, a very giving person." He recalled when Corma briefly returned from combat duty on emergency leave to be with his ill father. The lieutenant bought 300 cans of energy drinks and sent them back to his platoon in Afghanistan.
Cahall said Corma died doing what he had dreamed of doing when he went to West Point - serving his country - and deserves the latest recognition.
"Having it there for everyone to see at the post office is, to me, very meaningful," he said.
Cahall found a way to pay personal tribute to his childhood friend: His youngest son, who turns 1 in March, has Salvatore as his middle name.
In 2013, Deptford officials chose two local soldiers who were killed in action to be honored with street names in a development in the Oak Valley section of the township. Mayor Paul Medany said Elmer "Buddy" Powell, who was killed in the Vietnam War, was from Oak Valley and Corma was chosen because his death had more recently rocked the community.
Medany said the street signs are yet to go up because the housing development is still being constructed.
Medany, who coached Corma in Little League, said he and other officials are thrilled by the prospect of naming the post office after him. "We think it's a fantastic idea," he said. "He was just a fantastic kid."
Last year, students at St. Augustine Prep School in Richland, Corma's high school, erected a memory garden for all its graduates who have died in military service, naming it the "First Lt. Salvatore S. Corma II Veterans Memorial."
A bench there reads "carpe diem," or "seize the day," Corma's personal motto.
Corma was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. Norcross, along with soldiers who served under Corma, are pursuing a Medal of Honor for him.
Trudy Corma said Norcross visited her a few weeks after her son was killed and she heard from him again after the proposal to name the post office passed the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
"I'm just really honored and humbled that they would consider Salvatore for that, because that's quite an honor," she said.
Norcross said that no date has been set for a House vote, but that he is hoping it will be done by July.