The U.S. Senate passed a measure on Thursday to name a small post office in Saunderstown after a local, fallen soldier who died in Iraq nearly 15 years ago.
Cap. Matthew J. August was the first native born Rhode Islander on active duty to be killed in Iraq when he died in 2004.
The North Kingstown native was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He went on to become a decorated Captain during his years of service, receiving numerous medals.
Matthew’s father, Richard August said his son would not have sought out any recognition for his service.
“If I were to guess, I’d say he’d probably say, ‘What’s all the fuss about?’” Richard said.
As an Army Captain, August said his son’s main concern was always for the safety of his men. Richard remembers asking him to be careful before he shipped out.
“I said to him, 'Matt, I don't care if you come home with a big chest full of medals, I just want you to come home,’” Richard said. “And he says, 'Dad, my mission and my goal is to make sure all my soldiers come home.'"
August had been leading the 1st Engineer Battalion of the 1st Infantry Division in search of insurgent munitions sixty miles west of Baghdad when the group was ambushed. August and three of his fellow soldiers were killed. Even then, Richard said his son was looking out for the best interest of his men.
“He never asked them to do anything he wouldn’t do himself,” Richard said. “That’s why he was leading that patrol. As company commander he could have just sent somebody else, just sent a lieutenant out there. But if his men were going to be exposed to danger, he was going to be leading them.”
Renaming the post office at 20 Ferry Road requires Congressional approval as well as the President’s signature. The measure passed in the Senate this week, with the help of Sen. Jack Reed, a fellow West Point alum.
Reed’s Press Secretary Chip Unruh believes will pass before the end of the year. Companion legislation is moving through the U.S. House.