On a Tuesday at the end of January 2007, Army Sergeant Alexander H. Fuller called his wife Anastacia while he was stationed in Iraq. She was pregnant with their soon-to-be daughter Alicia. During the call, Sgt. Fuller told his wife how beautiful she looked.
That would be their last conversation. Two days later, Sgt. Fuller died at the age of 21 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations in Baghdad.
Sgt. Fuller is one of 14 individuals with Cape Cod ties who have died in combat since 9/11 while serving our country. During this weekend’s upcoming Ruck4HIT, they will be remembered along with three of the Marines – Captain Kyle R. Van De Giesen, Captain David S. Mitchell, Corporal Gregory M. W. Fleury – who died in the same helicopter crash in Afghanistan that killed Captain Eric A. Jones.
There will be signs throughout the 200+ mile Ruck4HIT course, recognizing the 17 fallen heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice defending our freedoms. And on the RunGo app, which participants use to navigate their individual legs, there will be short audio snippets about their lives and their service.
The idea to pay tribute to the 17 was veteran Wayne MacDonald’s. He worked with Steve Spencer, one of the race organizers, to make the idea a reality for this year’s Ruck4HIT.
It was a project that had its roots in 2019 after MacDonald finished the 5th Annual Ruck4HIT with his teammates on RideAway Ruck Squad. “I was inspired by the exchange at the Veterans Garden in Mashpee Community Park,” he said.
There, the Town of Mashpee has listed the names of all Mashpee veterans who served in war as well as honor stones commemorating those who died while serving. Captain Jones’ name is etched on one of those stones.
During last year’s Not Your Ordinary Ruck4HIT Challenge Weekend, MacDonald’s team made several runs to the park, visiting Captain Jones’ plaque. “A thought came to me about dedicating specific legs of the Ruck4HIT to the fallen service members from the Cape,” MacDonald said. “If we couldn’t use existing memorials as exchanges, we could create our own memorials to tell the inspiring stories of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us.” ‘
A special thanks to the Diamond Family and 42 North Solutions for sponsoring our Ruck4HIT Fallen Heroes Memorial Signs.
Ruck4HIT: Remembering Our Fallen Heroes
Army Staff Sergeant Alicia A. Birchett, 29, of Mashpee — August 9, 2007, in Iraq
Army Private First Class Paul E. Conlon, 21, of Mashpee — August 15, 2008, in Afghanistan
Navy Captain Gerald F. DeConto, 44, of Sandwich — September 11, 2001, at the Pentagon
Army Sergeant Alexander H. Fuller, 21, of Centerville — January 25, 2007, in Iraq
Army Sergeant Matthew R. Gallagher, 22, of North Falmouth — June 26, 2011, in Iraq
Navy SEAL Kevin A. Houston, 35, of Hyannisport — August 6, 2011, in Afghanistan
Marine Captain Eric A. Jones, 29, of Mashpee — October 29, 2009, in Afghanistan
Marine Private First Class Becket Kiernan, 18, of Falmouth — February 5, 2018, in Twentynine Palms, CA
Marine Private First Class Daniel McGuire, 19, of Mashpee — August 14, 2008, in Iraq
Army Sergeant Matthew A. Pucino, 34, of Bourne — November 23, 2009, in Afghanistan
Army Private First Class Clinton E. Springer II, 21, of Bourne — September 24, 2010, in Afghanistan
Army Sergeant Mark R. Vecchione, 25, of Eastham — July 18, 2006, in Iraq
Marine Corporal Nicholas G. Xiarhos, 21, of Yarmouth — July 23, 2009, in Afghanistan
Army Sergeant Zachary D. Tellier, 31, of Falmouth — September 29, 2007, in Afghanistan
Marine Corporal Gregory M.W. Fleury, 23, of Anchorage, Alaska — October 29, 2009, in Afghanistan
Marine Captain David S. Mitchell, 30, of Loveland, Ohio — October 29, 2009, in Afghanistan
Marine Captain Kyle R. Van De Giesen, 29, of North Attleborough — October 29, 2009, in Afghanistan