GRAND MARSHALL FOR 2017 MEMORIAL DAY EVENTS.
U S NAVY CORPSMAN STUART FUKE
Stuart Fuke served in the United States Navy from 2007 - 2012 as a Hospital Corpsman, deploying twice to Afghanistan -- once with the 3rd Battallion 5th Marines. During his second deployment to Afghanistan, he was hit with enemy gunfire. Stuart was sent to San Diego for treatment of his injuries and eventual medical retirement from the Navy.
Stuart was awarded the Purple Heart Medal for his wounds in action. His exceptional service also was recognized with the awarding of the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Valor (NAM with V). Stuart is most proud of the second award because it reflects what he did rather than what was done to him. Sections of the award are quoted below:
" ....without regard for his own safety, he ran through an uncleared lane to the front of the platoon to care for the wounded Marine ...", "... without regard for his own safety, he exposed himself to enemy fire to care for the casualty, ultimately saving his life ..." "Hospital Corpsman Third Class Stuart Fuke's initiative, perseverance, and total dedication to duty reflected credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
One of the Marines whose life he was able to help save was Corporal Carlos Garcia (Grand Marshall of the 2014 Laguna Hills Memorial Day Race) whose children are now Stuart's Godchildren. Although Stuart helped save lives of Marines, there were those he could not save, including a good friend who died in Stuart's arms--Corporal James Boelk. "We called him Baloo, after the bear in Jungle Book, because he was always positive and good company," Stuart recalls. Although they had never met, James mother reached out to Stuart through letters and care packages when she heard he was struggling with despair. As a result of her care packages and letters, Stuart came to see and know strength in her that in turn gave him strength. He determined that if a Gold Star mother could turn her broken heart into helping others, he could too. Today Stuart smiles when he speaks of her, and with affection refers to her as "Momma Boelk."
Stuart completed his AA Degree in Culinary Arts and is now working toward a BA in Hospitality, Food and Beverage. One of his duties while deployed was to prepare meals for the unit. Stuart said, "I liked it when I cooked a meal that the Marines loved. That made me happy." He credits his time in the service for learning what he enjoys.
Stuart agreed to serve as the Grand Marshall of the 2017 Memorial Day race because he wants to draw attention to the purpose and reason for Memorial Day. He said, "It's okay to have a barbecue, or fun with your friends on a three day week-end, but take time to think about and remember who we are honoring on this holiday. I live and enjoy life to honor my friend James."
Please come and run in honor of Stuart's fallen friends, and remember to stop by our EXPO booth to meet and shake his hand.
501(C)(3) ID# 27-4526336