BAY CITY, MI, USA U.S. Army SSG, HHC, 4TH SQUADRON, 14TH CAVALRY, 172D SBCT (4 ID), FORT WAINWRIGHT, AK LANDSTUHL 09/02/2006
Staff Sergeant Eugene Alex turned 32 on Aug. 30. It also was the day he was wounded by small-arms fire on traffic control duty in Baghdad, Iraq. On Saturday, the former Reese and Bay City native died at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
Alex was a cavalry scout who served with the 4th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team based at Ft. Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska.
He also was a “wonderful husband and excellent father” of two boys and a girl, ages 11, 8, and 6, respectively, said Sue Huntley, his mother-in-law.
Alex, who grew up in Reese and later lived in Bay City, was back in Alaska earlier this year recuperating for three months from neck injuries he sustained when his unit was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq last October, Huntley said.
Alex joined the Army in May 1996. He was recently married and had been working at a granary when he decided to enlist so that he could better provide for his family, Huntley said. He served at Ft. Knox in Kentucky and Ft. Hood in Texas before going to Ft. Wainwright in September 2003. He also was previously stationed in Bosnia and Korea.
Before he left for Iraq in the fall of 2005, Eugene Alex told his wife that if anything happened to him, he wanted her to move with their three children to Reese, population 1,400. About a year later, at 6 a.m. Aug. 30, 2006, the phone rang at the Alex home on an Army base in Alaska.
“I received a phone call telling me my husband was shot by a sniper in the head and that he was in critical condition,” Melissa Alex said. The next day, the soldier’s wife flew to Germany. In Germany, Alex made her way to a hospital rooming house where met Eugene Alex’s parents, Ron and Sally Alex of Glennie, who had arrived before her.
“They told me it was a bad situation, and that I had some decisions I had to make.”
In the hospital room with her husband, and with Eugene Alex given no chance for a meaningful recovery, Melissa Alex remembered his wishes again.
“He didn’t want to be (incapacitated),” she said. “If he couldn’t walk and talk and play with his kids, he’d rather be dead.” She decided to remove her 32-year-old husband from life support, and to donate his organs.
“I let him go,” Melissa Alex said. “They presented him with his Purple Heart shortly before I made the choice.”
About a month after Eugene Alex’s death, his wife moved with their children – Austin, Zackery and Autumn – to a home near Reese. Eugene Alex had prepared for the worst in the event he didn’t return from war, Melissa Alex said. He purchased a life-insurance policy that has provided invaluable financial benefits. Melissa Alex said he also gave her advice that – at the time – she didn’t want to hear.
“He had said that if he didn’t come back, when the time’s right, you’ll find somebody to love you and to love your children,” Melissa Alex said. The Alex kids – 12-year-old Austin, 10-year-old Zackery and 8-year-old Autumn – have helped create a memorial garden, in the front yard, in honor of their late father.