On November 23, 2009, a hero was lost to the world. At age 34, Staff Sergeant Matthew Albert Pucino laid down his life to free the oppressed. While on a combat patrol in the vicinity of Pashay Kala, Afghanistan, an improvised explosive device struck his all-terrain vehicle, thus ending this warrior’s mission. Assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) of the Maryland Army National Guard, Matthew was a Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha Intelligent Sergeant, earning numerous awards and commendations for bravery and acts of meritorious service. Early life saw Matthew growing up in Plymouth and Bourne, Massachusetts. Ever the sports enthusiast, Matthew played baseball and football as a small boy. Growing up, he was the quarterback for his high school football team at Bishop Stang. Matthew suffered some tough Sunday games, landing him on crutches for the first half of his week. By Wednesday, he tossed the crutches aside and subjected himself to the grueling practice of football. A fighter early on, Matthew would never be derailed. He graduated from Bishop Stang in 1993 and earned himself a degree in criminal justice shortly there after. On that fateful day in September, 2001, Matthew’s world, like so many other American’s, changed forever. Angry and bothered by the fact that terrorists had committed such heinous acts on American soil, Matthew sought to bring justice for the lives lost. In 2002, he enlisted to become one of the toughest of the tough, the best of the best. Matthew became a Special Forces Soldier. He completed the punishing courses to become Special Forces qualified and excelled in many other military educational courses. Matthew’s education includes the Warrior Leader’s Course, Basic NCO Course, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) Course, Basic Airborne Course, Special Forces Intelligence Sergeant Course, Gryphon Group Mobile Fore Protection Driving Course, Arabic Language Course, and the Special Forces Qualification Course. With his education complete, Matthew was assigned to 5th Special Forces Group as an Engineer Sergeant. He deployed two times with 5th Group to Iraq and was responsible for the capture of over 200 insurgents. While conducting a raid on Christmas Eve during one deployment, Matthew’s team came under heavy attack. A sergeant was badly wounded and needed blood to survive. Stepping up to the plate, Matthew donated two pints of blood before returning to the battlefield to fight the good fight. This selfless act secured his status as one of the elite, a brave heart that would never back down. After his second deployment to Iraq, Matthew worked for NEK Advanced Securities Group in the United States and deploying to combat zones on training projects. Upon release from active duty, he joined the 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) where he served with B/3/20th in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Shortly thereafter he transferred to B/2/20th Glen Arm, Maryland and deployed to Afghanistan. One of the many awards earned by Staff Sergeant Pucino was the Army Commendation Medal. This medal is awarded for distinguishing oneself by heroism, meritorious achievement or meritorious service. It’s awarded for valorous actions in direct contact with an enemy force. At the young age of 34, Staff Sergeant Matthew Albert Pucino distinguished himself by heroism with his final act, he laid down his life to protect another. In memory of Staff Sergeant Matthew Albert Pucino, we continue his battle. – De Oppresso Liber.
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