Falmouth native killed while on patrol in Iraq

Matthew Gallagher, who was on his second tour in Iraq, would have turned 23 July 5. Matthew Gallagher, who was on his second tour in Iraq, would have turned 23 July 5.
By L. Finch
Globe Correspondent / June 28, 2011

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A 22-year-old soldier from Falmouth, who was due to return home in two weeks for a brief leave to celebrate his birthday, was killed over the weekend in Iraq, his family said yesterday.

Sergeant Matthew Gallagher was shot Saturday while he and another soldier conducted a sweep of a building in northern Iraq, his family said. Gallagher, who was promoted by the Army to the rank of sergeant only two weeks ago, would have turned 23 a week from today.

A spokesman for the Department of Defense declined to comment, citing a policy to release casualty information to the public only 24 hours after the notification of the family.

Gallagher was on his second tour of duty in Iraq, his stepfather James Ruggiero said. Gallagher had spent about eight months in the war-torn country last year, he said.

He had originally wanted to be a police officer but found his niche in the Army, his family said.

Gallagher’s mother, Cheryl Ruggiero, served as a medic in the Army when she was younger.

“He loved the Army so much he was talking about reenlisting when the time was up,’’ his stepfather said.

Before enlisting, Gallagher attended Falmouth High School and met his wife, Katie, while they both were students there, Ruggiero said. After dating for six years, the two married last year and lived together in Texas, where Gallagher was based before he was deployed a second time to Iraq, he said.

Gallagher loved to spend time outdoors, snowboarding, skiing, boating, and mountain biking, as well as time with his friends, his mother said.

He had a mischievous side, but mostly he was an intelligent, sensitive young man who loved his mother’s cooking, she said, adding that she had just mailed a care package of homemade oatmeal cookies to him Sunday.

“He was just an all-around good guy,’’ she said. “He made his mama proud.’’

L. Finch can be reached at