Army Master Sgt. Andrew Christian Marckesano, dubbed by colleagues as the real-life “Captain America,” died by suicide last week, Fox News reported.
Marckesano was a decorated Green Beret who served six full tours of duty in Afghanistan, received a Silver Star, and was preparing to begin a job at the Pentagon, according to the New York Post.
Marckesano is survived by his wife and his three small children.
The enemy within
Master Sgt. Marckesano was well-known not only for his battlefield exploits but also for the extraordinary trials he had endured. He was unbreakable when it came to external enemies, but the enemy within was, tragically, a different story.
After Marckesano’s suicide, command Sgt. Major Bert Puckett of his battalion sent out a text saying: “Text me, I told you before my door is open… my phone is at hand. We did things that people make movies about and in some cases, writers and producers wouldn’t even try to write our story… the rucksack is heavy… and when it gets heavy we […] help each other, but you have to reach out… Don’t let the Valley win.”
The Valley that Puckett referenced is Afghanistan’s Arghandab Valley, where Marckesano was deployed in 2009.
The 2-508 battalion had one of the war’s highest casualty rates and, according to Puckett, “That deployment was like being in the ring with Mike Tyson for a year.”
Marckesano was the 30th soldier from the 2-508 battalion to die by suicide, according to Fox News. The 2-508 battalion not only survived the hell that was the Arghandab Valley, but they are still fighting to this day.
Helping our veterans
America’s real-life superheroes have given so much for this nation and have witnessed things that would break even the strongest among us. While most American’s cannot fathom the difficulties they have faced, we can commit all necessary resources to provide assistance when they return.
Men like Master Sgt. Marckesano and Staff Sgt. Allen Thomas — another soldier who was ultimately lost to the psychological ravages of combat — were fighters who braved the IED’s of the Taliban and made it home, only to be claimed by mental illness.
While President Trump recently rolled out a three-year initiative to help combat the devastating epidemic of suicide among America’s veterans, there is still endless work to be done.
We owe a duty to the brave men and women of the armed services who have risked it all for our freedoms, and when tragedy strikes — as in the case of Master Sgt. Marcksesano — we need to be there for their families as well.