Army veteran who died in accident ‘saved the lives of eight people’ through organ donations
By DENNIS HOEY | Portland Press Herald, Maine (Tribune News Service) | Published: August 24, 2018
The family of an Army veteran who died in a motorcycle accident Sunday is trying to raise enough money to give him a proper burial in his home state of Maine.
James Caputi, 25, was riding his motorcycle when he lost control, hit a curb and a guardrail and was thrown from the bike, according to Prince William County Police in Woodbridge, Va.
Caputi, a designated organ donor, was placed on life support in a Virginia hospital until his organs could be removed and donated, his family said.
Eight people received organs from the former soldier, who had been living in Virginia. Caputi’s wife, Samantha Erickson, and 3-year-old son, Michael, live in Maine.
Shay Fish, who with her husband, Abraxis Fish, had raised Caputi since he was a teenager, was interviewed Thursday by telephone from Virginia, where she was making arrangements for Caputi’s remains to be returned to Maine.
Fish said Caputi left the Army on July 5. When Caputi’s wife contacted the Army this week about covering his funeral expenses, she was told that because he was no longer in the military, the government would pay only $600 toward funeral costs, Fish said.
“That’s not enough for a funeral,” Fish said. “Burying your kid is not what I expected. It was supposed to be him burying me someday.”
Eight people received organs from James Caputi, who turned 25 on July 19.
Fish, who drove to Virginia from Maine to retrieve her son’s remains, said a funeral home estimated the cost at $12,000.
Fish has created a GoFundMe page to try to raise money to cover the cost of Caputi’s funeral. As of Friday morning, $2,800 had been raised.
Caputi celebrated his 25th birthday on July 19. The couple had been discussing formally adopting him, but now will never have that chance.
“I’m his mom,” Fish said. “I’ve raised him since he was 14.”
After earning his GED, Caputi joined the Army, Fish said.
He served four years before being honorably discharged in July, according to his roommate and Army colleague Sgt. Vance Glomski. Caputi was an Army specialist.
“He was my brother. I’ve known him for years. We did everything together,” Glomski said. “He was my best friend.”
Glomski said Caputi was an instructor in the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as “The Old Guard,” the Army’s oldest active infantry regiment. The Old Guard is responsible for conducting “flags-in,” a ceremony in which an American flag is placed at every headstone at Arlington National Cemetery just prior to Memorial Day. The flags-in tradition has taken place annually since 1948.
The Old Guard’s mission is to conduct events to honor fallen soldiers, as well as other ceremonial duties representing the Army. Caputi was garrisoned at the 1st Battalion headquarters in Fort Myer, Virginia.
Shay Fish said Caputi decided to leave the military so he could spend more time with his son.
“He wanted to leave the Army so that he could be with his son in Maine,” Fish explained.
“Michael was his absolute joy in life. He was just amazing when he was with him. He was a fantastic father. We want James to be buried here so that his son has a place to go to visit him.”
Fish is especially proud of her son’s wishes to donate his organs.
“He saved the lives of eight people,” Fish said. “That was him. He’d give someone the shirt off his back and the last penny in his pocket.”