A decorated Green Beret who served a dozen combat tours, including six in Afghanistan, committed suicide last week in front of his wife, becoming the 30th member of his elite battalion to kill himself, according to reports.
Master Sgt. Andrew Christian Marckesano, 34, was known as “Captain America” to his fellow soldiers in the 82nd Airborne Division. He earned a Silver Star for bravery and had recently moved to Washington, DC, to work at the Pentagon.
But on July 6, after having dinner with his former battalion commander, Marckesano returned home and committed suicide in front of his wife. He was still on active duty and leaves behind three small children.
It was not clear how he killed himself.
In the days before he died, he sent an upbeat message to his fellow soldiers: “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,” according to Fox News.
Friends and family said Marckesano never really got past his 2009 tour in Afghanistan’s Arghandab Valley with the 2-508 battalion, which had one of the highest mortality rates in the war.
“That deployment was like being in the ring with Mike Tyson for a year,” the battalion’s former Command Sgt. Major Bert Puckett told Fox.
Marckesano is one of an estimated 20 combat veterans who are killing themselves every day, according to military statistics. Last month, President Trump launched the PREVENTS Task Force to aid veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress.
“My administration is marshaling every resource to stop the crisis of veteran suicide and protect our nation’s most treasured heroes,” Trump said. “They’ve been through so much, and it’s such a deep-seated problem.”