By Lea Johnson
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The 21st Space Wing family suffered a tragic loss last week after receiving news that Airman 1st Class Matthew R. Seidler, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance technician, was killed in Afghanistan Jan. 5 by an improvised explosive device.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to his family in this time of grief,” said Col. Chris Crawford, 21st Space Wing commander. “He made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, and we will never forget him, nor the others who have met the same fate fighting for freedom both here and abroad.”
Two other EOD Airmen were also killed in the attack. They are Senior Airman Bryan R. Bell, 23, of Erie, Pa., assigned to the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, La.; and Tech. Sgt. Matthew S. Schwartz, 34, of Traverse City, Mich., assigned to the 90th Civil Engineer Squadron, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.
Seidler, 24, was from Westminster, Md. He entered the Air Force in November 2009 and arrived at Peterson in January 2011. He was the first Airman from the 21st Space Wing killed in action since the wing’s inception in 1992.
Tech. Sgt. Jason Warden, 21st CES EOD craftsman, said, “He was almost the perfect Airman. He was really polite and he was really big on customs and courtesies.”
Seidler could often be found in the shop after work studying the equipment or for classes. “You could tell that he was completely devoted to what we do, and he immersed himself completely in it. He turned into an incredible EOD Airman and enjoyed what we do,” said Staff Sgt. Mathew Kimberling, 21st CES EOD craftsman.
The EOD shop is a close family, Kimberling said, and Seidler would often organize group hikes and activities. “He really enjoyed being here in Colorado, especially the outdoor life,” Kimberling said.
Seidler was driven, committed and would take on any challenge because he wanted to be the best at everything he did. “He loved doing the incline,” Warden said. “Last Friday, we all went as a shop to (hike) the incline in his name.”
The EOD community is very small, with less than 1,000 members Air Force-wide, Kimberling said. “When the news spreads it hurts everyone whether you knew them directly or whether it’s just the fact that he was an EOD brother. Everyone feels it.”
Lt. Col. Mark Donnithorne, 21st CES commander, added, “EOD Airmen have been vital to Operation Enduring Freedom, and unfortunately, the pride we’ll feel when we see Matt’s name on the EOD Memorial Wall at Eglin AFB will not extinguish the sorrow we feel from his loss. We will never forget Matt’s sacrifice and dedication to his critical, yet dangerous, mission.”
Seidler’s funeral will be held Jan. 17 in Virginia where he will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
A memorial service will be held on Peterson AFB at a later date.