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On Wednesday, Nov. 11, the 11th anniversary of the death of his friend 1st Lt. Dan Malcolm’s death, Kutilek, a student at Command and Staff College, will embark on a 200-mile bike ride around Marine Corps Base Quantico to honor his friend by raising money for the Semper Fi Fund, which provides financial and emotional support for injured or ill service members

Photo by Courtesy of Maj. Matthew Kutilek

Marine will conduct 200-mile bike ride around Quantico in honor of friend killed in Fallujah

9 Nov 2015 | Marine Corps Base Quantico

For seven years, Maj. Matthew Kutilek says he spent more time with 1st Lt. Dan Malcolm than with anyone else on earth.

The two entered The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, in 1997, graduated together in 2001, and went through the Infantry Officer Course aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico simultaneously in 2002. They both received orders to report to 1st Battalion, 8th Marines at Camp Lejeune and were both deployed to Fallujah in 2004.

It was there, on Nov. 10, 2004, that their paths diverged. Malcolm was killed by a high velocity bullet to his torso fired by an enemy sniper positioned in the minaret of a nearby mosque. He was shot in a stairwell, on his way down from a rooftop where he had spoken and shaken hands with his friend and fellow platoon commander, Kutilek, only 30 minutes prior.



On Wednesday, Nov. 11, the 11th anniversary of Malcolm’s death, Kutilek, a student at Command and Staff College, will embark on a 200-mile bike ride around Marine Corps Base Quantico to honor his friend by raising money for the Semper Fi Fund, which provides financial and emotional support for injured or ill service members.

“Dan didn’t have a family. He wasn’t married and his father was dead. That’s one of the reasons I want to honor him and keep his name alive,” Kutilek said. 

Kutilek has created a 17.5-mile loop around the main side of the base which he’ll traverse 11 times. The route has 1,000 miles of elevation per lap. Anyone who wishes to can join in for one or all of the loops. Kutilek plans to conduct in as fast a pace as he can. He’ll start at 3 a.m. in the morning of Nov. 11 and estimates that it will take 12 to 14 hours to complete the ride.

Kutilek completed a similar 200-mile ride in honor of Lt. Malcolm at Camp Lejeune last year. He was searching for a way to mark the 10th anniversary of his friend’s death.

 “I thought, a stupid physical thing a Marine would do is go for a 200-mile bike ride, so I’m going to do that for him,” Kutilek said.

Through his ride last year, he raised more than $3,500 for the Semper Fi fund. He decided to make the ride an annual event.

Kutilek said this is his fourth ride of over 200 miles and that he’s on pace to cycle 9,000 miles this year. But he only began cycling three years ago.

“I used to run marathons,” he said. “But I can’t run anymore.”

He can no longer run because in 2010, his leg was gravely injured by a sniper bullet in Afghanistan. The bullet severed two of the three arteries in his leg and destroyed nine centimeters of his tibia nerve. In the immediate aftermath of the injury, he lost “every pint of blood in his body.”

“I should have died, or, at the very least, lost my leg,” Kutilek said. He credits his first sergeant and the naval corpsman on duty for saving his life.

His recovery involved 10 weeks in the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center, 11 surgeries, and 150 physical therapy sessions. He has nine centimeters of nerve from a cadaver in his leg along with a metal rod and four screws. After his final surgery, he asked the doctor what he could do to get better. Running was no longer an option – even walking was painful.

The doctor recommended stationary cycling. So he tried it.

“The first time I cycled, it was for 30 seconds only. That’s all I could do. But I built up to five minutes, then 10, then 20. I was hooked. It was the first exercise I’d done since the injury that wasn’t painful,” Kutilek said.

Biking became his primary form of exercise and his ticket to full physical and mental rehabilitation.

“Cycling has given me the ability to defeat the enemy every day,” he said.

“If you’re a wounded Marine, and you get depressed and lethargic and unhealthy, you’ve let enemy win,” he continued. “You’re defeated. You’ve got to have a daily purpose in life and take care of your body physically.”

Kutilek credits his wife, Andrea, for allowing him to make the massive time and money investment cycling demands. She continues to be a marathon runner, but his three daughters—Allie, 5, Lily, 7, and Emma, 9, have taken up biking with their dad around the base.

Kutilek describes himself as spiritual and says that his bike rides around the United States are a way to commune with nature.

“I get to spend time in God’s creation,” he said. “There are so many parts of the country you can only see on a bike.” On one recent bike ride aboard Quantico, he encountered a skunk, possum, squirrel, deer and a coyote.

Kutilek prefers to view his injury as a way to raise funds for wounded warriors and make sure the memory of his friend stays alive.

“It’s taking a negative and turning it into a positive,” he said. “My story allows me to raise money for Semper Fi and awareness of Dan. I want people to remember his sacrifice.”








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