Memorial Weekend Tribute: A Shout-Out to Bowdoin Grads in the Service

As the nation honors its veterans, past and present, this Memorial Day, Bowdoin College recognizes alumni who are currently serving their country. Here are messages from four of them, three of whom are serving in the US Marine Corps, which has especially strong links to the College through the Bowdoin Marine Corps Society.

David “Mac” Caputi, First Lieutenant, USMC
Bowdoin Class of 2015

I am now the company executive officer for Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

On my most recent deployment to Sigonella, Italy, from August 2017 to March 2018, I was the weapons platoon commander for Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, where our company was forward deployed as an alert crisis response force. Fortunately, we were never called to respond to any crises, but I deployed to West Africa as the officer-in-charge with a group of Marines for six weeks to train some of our allies in counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism (this was not a combat/dangerous mission; it was strictly training).

As a Bowdoin Marine, it’s an honor being part of a small tradition within the Marine Corps. I have a picture hanging up in my office of the men of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, on the island of Peleliu. Captain Andrew Haldane of Bowdoin was the company commander of those men before he was killed in action in the same battle. The picture is a sobering reminder of the sacrifices made by Marines, and it’s even closer to home, given that Captain Haldane was a Bowdoin graduate.

Katie Petronio, Major, USMC
Bowdoin Class of 2007

I am a combat engineer in the US Marine Corps. In 2009 I deployed to Iraq as director of the Lioness Program, a female search and engagement team. I deployed there a second time in 2011, based in Sangin, in war-torn Helmand province, building patrol bases and conducting counter-IED (improvised explosive devices) operations. I returned to Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia, as an instructor in 2012. Three years later I was posted to Hawaii to run recovery operations for missing remains of lost service members during WWII. I am currently the staff secretary of USMC Forces, Pacific and am being posted to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, this summer.

My favorite Bowdoin memory  occurred the year after I graduated in 2007. I was a member of the women’s ice hockey team, which did a lot of fundraising and community outreach for the construction of Watson Arena. Unfortunately our class never played in the new rink, but I do recall the excitement when I went back to visit after graduation. As I walked into the massive facility, it was like living the scene from the movie A League of Their Own, when the original players walked through the hall of fame which was a tribute to them. My classmates and I were speechless as we realized most of the billboards and images were from the previous four years and although we never played there, we were forever engraved into the memory of Bowdoin hockey. Life has been quite busy since Bowdoin, but on my bucket list is a trip back to Sidney J. Watson Arena, where I can show my husband and kids what I refer to as ‘”the glory days.”

Sage Santangelo, Captain, USMC
Bowdoin Class of 2012

I am a weapons system operator in an F/A-18D Hornet. A better job description is “Goose” from Top Gun, that is what I do. My Marine Corps career has taken me places I never expected to go. In about six years I have written for The Washington Post, done two deployments, traveled to Afghanistan, South Korea, Japan, Guam, and other places all over the United States and the world. I am currently stationed in San Diego and am looking forward to deploying to the western Pacific again in the next few months.

What does Bowdoin mean to me? It taught me to challenge myself and get outside my bubble. To surround myself with people that dedicate themselves to more than themselves. Best Bowdoin memory? Probably spending late nights in the union with the women’s hockey team doing work, and regularly dancing on tables in Coles Tower on Saturday night. 

Simon Ward, Staff Sergeant, USAF
Bowdoin Class of 2013

Serving as an enlisted mechanic after a prep school rearing and a Bowdoin education has been a humbling experience. I recently returned from Undisclosed Location, Jordan, where I was blessed with a few nights in Amman, a day at Petra (see photo), a moment at Christ’s baptism site, and a float in the Dead Sea. 

Bowdoin prepared me “to be at home in all lands…and [to] cooperate with others for common ends.”  I am proud to be a Bowdoin alum, as I am proud to be a veteran.

4 thoughts on “Memorial Weekend Tribute: A Shout-Out to Bowdoin Grads in the Service

  1. Cy Allen '66

    “Thank you for your service;” to all of Bowdoin’s veterans, past and present.

  2. Colby Thresher. ‘58

    Dear Mac, Katie, Sage, andSimon,

    Wonderful Memorial Day stories of your exciting lives of service. As an ROTC grad of Bowdoin’s Class of ‘58; preparing for our 60th this week, I commend and thank you for your service. We will be visiting Joshua Chamberlain’s home after reunion.
    You follow ina long line of distinguished Bowdoin service.

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