Two days after the Fourth of July on Monday night, after having dinner with his former battalion leader, Marckesano returned home from dinner in Old Town, Alexandria, and died by suicide in front of his wife. He had three small children and was still on active duty.

His death sent shock waves through the military. His friends, family and military leaders were at a loss. Many told Fox News that Marckesano never got over his tour in Afghanistan’s Arghandab Valley in 2009 with the 2-508, a battalion that had one of the highest casualty rates of any unit during the war. “That deployment was like being in the ring with Mike Tyson for a year,” according to the battalion’s former Command Sgt Major Bert Puckett.

He sent a passionate appeal this week to the rest of the battalion: “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.”