Matthew, our 19 year old son, was born on Thanksgiving day, November 24,1988 in Tampa, Fl. He is the middle of 3 children. He has a sister, Cami, 27, and a brother, Cody, 12. Matthew was home schooled from K-3rd grade, attended Tampa Baptist Academy for 4-11 grade and completed high school at Chamberlain in May of 2007. His interests growing up included playing baseball, golf, football and going hunting and fishing. He got certified in SCUBA at age 14 and loves to go to the Rainbow or Itchetucknee Rivers to snorkel and float.
Around age 3, while visiting MacDill Airforce base with his grandparents, who were both in the military, his Papa being retired Navy, Matthew began his interest with the military. He would just stand and stare in awe at the men in uniform. He talked about joining the military for years while still in school and upon graduating began making the rounds, talking to recruiters. His dad and I, for selfish reasons, did our best to try to dissuade him or delay his enlistment until after college. But he wouldn't hear of it and informed us that this is what he wanted to do and please be supportive. He went in knowing full well what the risks could be. With that said, Matt would not want anyone to feel sorry for him or us right now. He is a very patriotic young man, as are all of our military. His love for God and country is what drove him to this place. He signed his enlistment papers on 9/11/07. He completed his boot camp at Ft. Benning, Ga after training as an infantryman. After being assigned to Schofield Barracks, HI, he was sent to Iraq in February of 2008. He then was assigned with a scouting recon unit outside Baghdad. On June 22, 2008 he was injured in a refueling assignment. Initial reports were that he was burned over 60% of his body with 2nd and 3rd degree burns. He was air lifted to Baghdad and then to a military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. All within 18 hours. Within less than 48 hours of his accident, he was transported to Brooke Army Medical Hospital in San Antonio, Tx.