Marines ride in memory of Marine killed in Fallujah

Jacksonville Daily News | By Adelina Colbert Adelina.colbert@JDNews.com | Link to Article | Published: Sunday, November 9, 2014 at 03:38 PM.

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With today marking the 10th anniversary of one of the deadliest battles in the Iraq war, two Camp Lejeune Marines will be riding more than 200 miles in areas surrounding Onslow County in honor of a Marine killed in that battle.

Maj. Matthew Kutilek, 45, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kyle Hanson, 31, will be riding in memory of 1st Lt. Dan Malcolm, who was killed by an enemy sniper in the battle for Fallujah in Iraq in 2004.

“Dan and I first met in August 1997 when we both reported to The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina in Charleston,” said Kutilek. “From that hot and humid day within the confines of The Citadel, until his death in 2004, I spent more time with and shared more experiences with Dan than with anyone else on the face of the Earth.”

Kutilek and Malcolm reported to 1st Battalion, 8th Marines based out of Camp Lejeune in 2002. In 2004, the two deployed to Iraq to fight in the battle for Fallujah, which is remembered today as one of the bloodiest battle in the region.

“It was the most intense urban fight since Hue City in Vietnam,” said Kutilek.

According to Kutilek, a single bullet punctured Malcolm’s upper right torso and immediately caused extensive internal damage. Malcolm, 25, was one of the 17 Marines killed in action then, with more than 220 other Marines wounded during the grueling month-long battle.

“I’m doing this to raise awareness and remember Dan,” he said. “Not let the memory of these guys be forgotten.

Kutilek said his goal is to raise $200 ($1 per mile) for the Semper Fi Fund in honor of Malcolm. As a combat Marine who was wounded in action in 2010, Kutilek said the Semper Fi Fund, which raises money for wounded, ill and injured Marines and sailors, helped him and his family through the injury and recovery process.

“They helped me during my hospital stay … and so I’m just giving back,” he said. “ … I raised $12,000 this past year for the Semper Fi Fund.”

Being a seasoned and accomplished bicyclist, Kutilek knows the ride will not be an easy feat.

“This will be very tough,” he said. “It’ll take us about 12 hours. We’ll stop every 50 miles. It takes a lot of training. It will be very challenging—200 miles of anything is very tough.”

On top of the love and support he receives from his wife, Andrea, and his three daughters, Kutilek said he is hoping for fair weather and good bicycling conditions.

“Hopefully the wind is not too windy,” he said.

Beginning at 4 a.m., Kutilek and Hanson will begin the arduous journey in Kinston and travel through Trenton, Maysville, and Jacksonville, Camp Lejeune, Topsail, Surf City and areas around Maple Hill.

“I’ve learned that doing stuff like this helps raise awareness and raise funds,” said Kutilek, who is aiming to raise a total of $20,000 for the Semper Fi Fund. “People like physical challenges.”

As an avid runner and bicyclist, Hanson said he did not hesitate to accompany Kutilek in the ride.

“I know I wouldn’t want to go on a 200-mile bike ride by myself,” said Hanson. “It’s for a good cause. The heart and mind is in the right place (and) it’s for the Marines who ultimately paid the sacrifice for us.

Despite having participated in numerous endurance sports including triathlons and marathons, Hanson said the ride today will be a new challenge for him.

“It will be furthest bike ride I’ve ever taken on,” said Hanson. “It’s definitely going to be out of our comfort zones for sure, just that distance. But through the pain, I think we’ll feel a little bit of gratitude as well for the ones that we lost—that’s why we do it.”

Hanson, who did not know Malcolm personally, said he will be taking the bike ride as a chance to remember the Marines he’s had the privilege of serving with and also ones who did not make it home with him.

“My mind is on a lot of people when I’m going through a lot of pain,” he said. “Ones that here and ones that are not.”

To donate towards Kutilek’s Semper Fi Fund, visit fundraising.semperfifund.org/fundraise?fcid=288624