LANSING, Mich. — State Sens. Ken Horn and Kevin Daley welcomed the family of fallen soldier Staff Sgt. Eugene Alex to the state Capitol on Wednesday.
Alex’s wife Melissa and son Zack traveled to Lansing to share with lawmakers the husband and father’s heroic service to this nation during a committee hearing on legislation that would honor his service.
“It’s been a truly humbling experience working with Melissa on this legislation honoring Staff Sgt. Alex,” said Horn, R-Frankenmuth. “He will forever be an American hero, and he should certainly be recognized as one. I hope this memorial reminds his friends, family and members of his community of the courage with which he served.”
“As I listened to Melissa’s testimony this afternoon, I couldn’t help but be amazed at her husband’s strength, courage and devotion to our country,” said Daley, R-Lum. “This man was as dedicated of a soldier as they come. His commitment to his fellow soldiers and the mission at hand were beyond admirable, and I only wish we could do more to thank him and his family.”
Staff Sgt. Alex was born in Saginaw and spent most of his life in Reese. He deployed to Iraq in 2005, and a few months into the deployment his vehicle hit a roadside bomb. He suffered a concussion and whiplash and was flown back home for convalescent leave.
Alex returned to Iraq, where he stood by on radio watch and worked around the forward operation camp. He stayed in this position for the remainder of his deployment. As his brigade was preparing to come home, the violence in Baghdad had spiraled out of control. Alex sat on the airfield of the Baghdad International Airport and watched as flights came to a halt. He would be one of 4,000 troops ordered to stay beyond their standard one-year tour.
After doing months of radio watch, his medical issues were resolved, and the hold that prevented him from joining soldiers in the field was lifted. Alex requested that he be returned to a line unit so he could return to duty with fellow soldiers. His request was granted, and he was again serving alongside the men of Charlie Troop.
On Aug. 30, 2006, on his 32nd birthday, Alex was hit by a sniper while watching over his fellow soldiers as they were conducting inspections. He was medically evacuated to Germany, where it was determined he was brain dead. His service to others didn’t end with his life, however; Alex saved or improved the lives of six people by donating his heart, eyes, kidneys and liver.
Horn and Daley, with help from Staff Sgt. Alex’s wife Melissa, introduced legislation to recognize his bravery and honor his service by naming a portion of state highway M-81 in Saginaw and Tuscola counties after him. The Staff Sergeant Eugene H.E. Alex Memorial Highway would begin at the intersection of M-81 and North Gera Rd. in Saginaw County and continue east to the highway’s intersection with South Van Buren Rd. in Tuscola County.
This stretch of road holds great significance to Melissa Alex, as it is the stretch of road that she and Staff Sgt. Alex would drive while they were dating.