NORTH KINGSTOWN – The Saunderstown Post Office was formally designated after a North Kingstown resident, Matthew J. August, who was killed in the line of duty while serving in Iraq.
Matthew, a decorated U.S. Army Captain, was killed in 2004 while leading his company on a mission near Khalidiya, Iraq, when his convoy was ambushed and hit by improvised explosive devices and small arms fire. He was only 28 when he died.
The Rhode Island native grew up in North Kingstown, went to Davisville Middle School and graduated from Bishop Hendricken High School in 1993 before attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After graduating from the academy, August went on to marry fellow West Point graduate, Captain Maureen Innes in 1998.
During his career, Matthew earned several medals, including the Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal, with two oak leaves; the National Defense Service Medal; and the Army Service and Overseas Service ribbons.
He was also posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal; Iraqi Campaign and Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary medals;,and Combat Action Badge.
And last week, 15 years after his death, Matthew was honored at a formal designation ceremony, where the Saunderstown Post Office was officially named the “Matthew J. August Post Office.”
Tiffany Forte of the postal service coordinated the ceremony, which featured the Rhode Island State Police color guard, VFW Post 152, the 88th Army Band brass ensemble and a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
The bill to rename the post office was either sponsored or cosponsored by state’s entire congressional delegation, with U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) sponsoring the bill in the Senate and U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) sponsoring it in the House. U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. David Cicilline also cosponsored the bill in the Senate and House, respectively.
Along with Matthew’s family, friends and classmates, all four delegates were in attendance at the ceremony. Lt. Gov. McKee, town council president Greg Mancini and superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams were also in attendance to show their support.
Reed, a fellow West Point graduate, called Matthew a “true patriot and hometown hero” befitting a “lasting tribute.”
“Matthew August’s accomplishments were many. He was a true patriot and a hometown hero who died fighting for his country. This is a fitting and lasting tribute to Captain August,” Reed said. “He made his family and community proud and made a positive difference in the lives of so many.”
“We are forever grateful to Captain August for his valor, service, and sacrifice,” he continued.
Echoing the sentiments of his fellow senator, Whitehouse called the designation a “lasting reminder” of Matthew’s life and the sacrifice he made for his country.
“It is a privilege to join Captain August’s family and the many friends whose lives he touched to dedicate this landmark in his honor,” he said. “Our nation and our community are forever grateful.”
Langevin and Cicilline, for their part, said that Matthew would rightfully be remembered for his extraordinary heroism.
“It is a true privilege to have helped dedicate the Saunderstown Post Office in honor of Captain August,” Langevin said. “This tribute will ensure his legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of future generations.”
“Captain August was a patriot in the truest sense of the word. We owe an enormous debt to him and to all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice on the altar of freedom,” Cicilline added. “It is my sincere hope that the Captain Matthew J. August Post Office will serve as a permanent memorial to the example of his life and the legacy he leaves behind.”
Matthew is survived by his parents, Donna and Richard August; his older brother Brigadier General Mark R. August (USAF); and his younger sister, Melanie Cargilo.
With so many honored guests, family members and friends in attendance, Richard said on Tuesday that the experience of the ceremony was “overwhelming” and “unbelievable.”
“It was an overwhelming experience to have the entire congressional delegation, Lt. Gov. McKee and town council president Mancini as well as the district manager of the USPS all present at the ceremony,” Richard said. “Especially surprising was that the superintendent of the United States Military Academy, Lt. Gen. Williams, was there since May 19th is the run up to graduation week at West Point which is a very busy time for him.”
“To have so many of Matthew’s West Point classmates travel from around the country to be there was unbelievable,” he added. “Matthew’s widow, Maureen, who we had not seen for many years, traveled all the way from Michigan to be there.”
He also said that postmaster Kevin Floody was “very accommodating” to him and Donna, adding that he was a great emcee for the ceremony.
Richard said another highlight of the ceremony was when retired Commander Nathan Hancock told some amusing stories about Matthew’s “antics with his group of close friends,” and when former Sergeant Tom Oyster, who was in the lead vehicle, said that he owed his life to Matthew.
And while he said it was unfortunate that Matthew’s brother Mark, a brigadier general in the Air Force, wasn’t able to be at the ceremony due to his schedule, Richard said that he, Donna and Melanie were “so very grateful to everyone who brought the event together so beautifully.”
“VFW Post 152, the Rhode Island State Police color guard, the 88th Army Band brass ensemble and the tremendous rendition of the first and fourth stanzas of The Star Spangled Banner a capella by Nancy Hillner made the dedication very special,” he said.
Captain Matthew August is buried at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.