Night of Excellence – The SSG Matthew A. Pucino Memorial Foundation held a fund-raiser on Saturday, March 10, 2018 in Boston. The venue was the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel and the event featured several speakers, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, silent auction, and a static display by a Special Forces team. The foundation was established by the Pucino family in memory of Matthew Pucino – a Green Beret who died in Afghanistan in 2009.
Staff Sergeant Matthew Pucino was a member of the U.S. Army’s Special Forces. He first served with the 5th Special Forces Group based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. While with the 5th SFG he deployed twice to Iraq. When he left active duty he joined the 20th Special Forces Group – a National Guard unit based on the East Coast. When not participating in training activities with the 20th SFG he worked overseas in combat zones for NEK Advanced Securities Group on training projects. He died at the age of 34 when deployed with his 20th SFG ODA in Afghanistan. Learn more about SSG Pucino.
Night of Excellence Event Speakers
Mark Ockerbloom. The Night of Excellence fund raising event was presided over by Mark Ockerbloom – a Boston 25 News Anchor. As Master of Ceremony, Mark provided background on the Pucino family and its foundation. He also introduced the event speakers – Albert Pucino, MSG Jeff Caudill, SSG (Ret) Kevin Flike, and LTC Mike Waltz.
Albert Pucino. Matt’s father thanked the attendees, supporters, and sponsors for the event. He informed the gathering about the importance of the foundation’s activities. Al is a retired Captain from the Massachusetts State Police.
Jeff Caudill of the 20th Special Forces Group was a teammate of Matt on ODA 2223 during the Afghanistan deployment. During his address to the audience Jeff provided some vivid memories of Matt and highlighted the important role that Matt had on the SF team. Jeff, now a Master Sergeant, also complimented the Pucino family on the foundation’s good work helping wounded veterans. Jeff is currently assigned as a Team Sergeant on an SFODA and is soon departing on another overseas deployment.
Kevin Flike, a medically retired Special Forces NCO, described his road to recovery after being severely wounded in Afghanistan. He was a member of the 1st Special Forces Group. Kevin deployed to the Philippines, Thailand, and twice to Afghanistan. While on his second deployment to Afghanistan he was shot. He provided insight into the physical, mental, and emotional challenges a wounded Soldier grapples with while trying to heal. Kevin’s struggle in the rehabilitation process was long and difficult. He stressed the importance of charitable organizations in the recovery process of the wounded Soldier and described how he was assisted by those types of organizations. Kevin is employed by Goldman Sachs in Boston. In his free time Kevin is actively involved with the Green Beret Foundation and other veterans support organizations – especially on challenges faced by wounded veterans on their long road to recovery. Visit his website at Wounded by War.
Mike Waltz was Matt’s company commander in Afghanistan in 2009. He described the mission of Matt’s team and Special Forces company. Mike stressed that the fight that Matt was engaged in is ongoing and of a ‘generational nature’. Waltz served as Vice President Cheney’s Special Advisor for South Asia and Counterterrorism. Prior to his time in the White House, Mike was the Director for Afghanistan policy within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Mike is currently a LTC assigned to a Special Forces unit in the National Guard. He is a former Fox News commentator, a businessman, and book author. Mike authored Warrior Diplomat: A Green Beret’s Battles from Washington to Afghanistan. Net proceeds from book sales are donated to the Green Beret Foundation. Mike is running for Congress in the state of Florida.
Night of Excellence Event Activities. A SF operational detachment from B/2/20th Special Forces (Maryland Army National Guard), Matt Pucino’s SF company, provided a display of the equipment used by U.S. Army Special Forces. Each of the team’s members provided an interesting information of the importance and utility of the various items on display to include radios for communications, items needed to do a forcible entry into a building, a SF medical kit, and various other pieces of SF equipment. ‘Blackbeard’ sweatshirts, t-shirts, and baseball caps were available for purchase. A Silent Auction was held to raise money for the foundation. Generous attendees eagerly signed up for the chance to win the many items available.
Sponsors of the Night of Excellence. The event was sponsored by a number of organizations and businesses to include American Fire Rustic Design, De Espresso Liber, Junior’s Bullet Pens, Loon Country Flagpoles, Metis Solutions, Old Yankee Cutting Boards, SI2 Technologies, Boston Red Sox, LSSI, Victor Brandon Corp, and Waveform D.J. Service.
About the Pucino Family. Al and Kathy Pucino (Matt’s parents) are now retired in Florida. Lisa Pucino Haglof, a sister of Matt, is Executive Director of the SSG Matthew A. Pucino Memorial Foundation. Melissa Pucino, a sister of Matt, works full-time as Director of Finance for the Green Beret Foundation.
The foundation conducts a number of activities throughout the year to raise money for wounded veterans. There are golf tournaments, motorcycle rides, and more.
Read more about the SSG Matthew A. Pucino Memorial Foundation.