A Memorial Day Feature
Local National Guardsmen remembered on Memorial Day
National Guardsmen remembered on Memorial Day
Last Memorial Day, Peggy Marchanti traveled to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia to honor the memory of her husband, Maj. Robert Marchanti, who was shot and killed in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2012.
“It was packed with other fallen soldiers’ families,” said Peggy Marchanti, who took comfort from being with other widows of fallen soldiers that day.
Four years after her husband’s death, she continues to honor his memory, not only on Memorial Day but throughout the year, in a number of public ways.
A resident of Gardenville in northeast Baltimore, Maj. Marchanti was a Towson University graduate who worked for many years as a physical education teacher at various elementary schools, including Carney Elementary.
He also worked at Dundalk and Logan elementary schools in Dundalk, and Mars Estates and Victory Villa elementary schools in Middle River.
Maj. Marchanti joined the Maryland Army National Guard in 1986, serving for a time in Kosovo in southeastern Europe, and ultimately joined the Guard full time in 2008.
“He always loved the military,” Peggy Marchanti said. “He saw it as a way to help people, really help people.”
Maj. Marchanti was working at the Fifth Regiment Armory in Baltimore on construction contracts for Guard facilities when he was tapped to go to Afghanistan.
At first he didn’t think he would be deployed, partly because of his age — he was in his 40s — and partly because of a hearing loss stemming from his time in Kosovo, Peggy Marchanti said.
But he ultimately was deployed, and on Feb. 25, 2012, an Afghani policeman shot Marchanti and Air Force Lt. Col. John D. Loftis of Kentucky in the head as they worked inside a ministry building in Kabul.
Several days earlier, protests and rioting had erupted after copies of the Quran that had been boxed for storage were mistakenly burned at t
Marchanti was only a few home for a vacation to cel with his wife and their four
In the years since, Pegg drawn on friends, family an with the enormous loss of h
the Bagram Air Base. w months short of returning lebrate his 25th anniversary children when he was killed. gy Marchanti said she has nd her Christian faith to cope her husband, whom she had known and loved since high school.
One of the things she misses most was his ability to make her and their children laugh.
“He was so funny,” she said. “He’d crack jokes all the time.”
She occasionally touches base with Lt. Col. Loftis’ widow and also connects with organizations such as T.A.P.S., the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, based in Arlington.
She also receives continuing support from the Maryland Army National Guard, which helped her assemble Maj. Marchanti’s many medals, including the Purple Heart, in a glassed-in frame.
“They all mean something, and they’re displayed in the right way,” she said.
The Guard’s chaplain also checks in with her from time to time to see how she’s doing, as do other members of the organization.
“I’m very fortunate that there are people in place that help me,” she said. “They’ve been so good to me.”
For the past two years, Peggy Marchanti has also worked with the Ravens Nest 8 fan club based in Middle River to help organize its annual 5K walk and run dedicated to Maj. Marchanti.
This year the event is scheduled for Sept. 18 starting from Bill Bateman’s Express on Compass Road in Middle River.
For Veterans Day in November, the Red Cross brings the families of fallen soldiers together, and the Guard also hosts a ceremony for fallen soldiers at Camp Fretterd, its military reservation in Reisterstown.
The names of the fallen are read at a bronze sculpture of a helmet sitting on top of an upright rifle rooted in a pair of boots. A bell is rung and a set of dog tags are placed on the memorial.
Peggy Marchanti said she hopes at some point to establish a foundation in her husband’s honor.
“I’d love to work with fallen soldiers and their families,” she said. “I know so much about getting through this — and I think I could give a lot in that way.”