A Virginia community came together on Thursday to say farewell to a local veteran known as the “Mystery Marine.”
Cpl. Mario Kletzke ran up and down Route 610 in Stafford County carrying the American flag in one hand and a POW flag in the other on every Fourth of July for the past three years.
Kletzke was nicknamed the Mystery Marine on social media after most residents struggled to identify the runner. There’s even a Facebook page called the “Stafford County Mystery Marine,” with photos of Kletzke in his green Marine shorts.
“How didn’t I know?” family friend Janet Martel said of the true identity of the Mystery Marine.
Kletzke took his own life last week after suffering from PTSD. He was 23.
A graduate from North Stafford High School in 2012, Kletzke was an avid runner.
“He used to do cross-country, so we definitely saw him, even before he was in the Marines, running around the neighborhood in those little shorts,” says Grace Ross, a family friend.
After high school, Kletzke served in the United States Marine Corps.
Family, friends and Stafford County residents lined the streets during his funeral procession to say goodbye. His fellow Marines carried Kletzke’s casket while veterans, coming from as far as Ohio, saluted his service. Some held signs of love, while others held the Marine Corps flag to honor Kletzke’s dedication.
Kletzke was laid to rest in Quantico National Cemetery. A website has been set up to honor Kletzke’s legacy with information on donating to Mission 22, an organization that works to end the stigma surrounding PTSD and stop military suicide.
The Department of Veteran Affairs said in 2014, an average of 20 veterans a day died by suicide nationwide.