US soldier beaten by gang of more than a dozen anti-military attackers

A young US Army infantry soldier from South Jersey was viciously beaten by a mob in South Philadelphia after a Sunday parade, reportedly being targeted due to his US Army jacket.

19-year-old Austin Freni -who had just recently flown home from Fort Benning after his mother began raising funds using a crowdfunding website- was reportedly jumped after leaving the annual Mummers Parade on Sunday.

Austin’s mother, Lori Freni, said a “group of 10-15 guys walked by me (making) derogatory comments towards Austin’s Army jacket,” with one man striking Austin before others joined in.

“Me and his girlfriend tried pulling them off and they hit us . We got hit in the face. She got thrown in the street,” his mom told local station Fox29.

While she was injured in the incident, Lori says her son is much worse off.

“He’s got to get plates put in his jaw and his mouth will be wired shut for the next eight weeks,” she said.

Unfortunately for the young soldier, he will likely be missing his scheduled first deployment, which will take his unit to the Middle East in less than two months.

The Freni family has had a series of bad luck. In addition to the assault, the family suffered financial woes, as well as the loss of Austin’s father to brain cancer and Lori’s loss of work due to a disability.

“We’re lost. Just complete disbelief,” Lori said.

The Philly Voice reports that Freni grew up in Camden County, New Jersey, prior to joining the United States Army and was due to return to Fort Benning, Georgia, after his family visit.  Freni  completed his Infantry training at the base in the end of November.

It is unknown if the family filed a police report after the incident.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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