By Lea Johnson
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Hundreds of military and civilians from across the region gathered on Jan. 20 to celebrate the life of Airman 1st Class Matthew R. Seidler, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance technician.
Seidler, from Westminster, Md., entered the Air Force in November 2009 and arrived at Peterson in January 2011. He was killed in Afghanistan from injuries suffered from an improvised explosive device on Jan. 5, just two days after his 24th birthday. He was the first Airman from the 21st Space Wing killed in action since the wing’s inception in 1992.
His parents, Marc and Lauren Seidler, were among the distinguished visitors in attendance.
To many at the memorial service, Seidler was a brother, not by blood but by craft. Lt. Col. Mark Donnithorne, 21st CES commander said, “Matt proudly wore the badge of explosive ordnance disposal. It’s one of the very few insignia that is common across all military services and it carries over to bomb squads across the nation. For everyone who wears that badge, it is a small symbol of the enormous devotion to their mission and to their brothers and sisters that put their lives on the line, side by side with them every day.”
Airman 1st Class Terry Smith, EOD technician, said, “We would talk to each other about how proud we were to be part of such a close-knit, small community. The look in his eyes, you could tell it was a big deal for him.”
Every day, Seidler was determined to be the best EOD technician that he could be. “When Matt arrived here at Peterson, he sought out every opportunity to train himself, to develop his EOD abilities, and excel at every task. He challenged himself and his fellow Airmen, and he put his all into everything he did,” said Master Sgt. Paul Horton, EOD flight chief.
Described as a nearly perfect Airman, Seidler pushed himself daily and he pushed others around him to do their best. Smith said that even during physical training, he would run alongside others, encouraging them to keep going, to not give up, to not stop. “What he did and what he gave is more than I think I’ll ever be able to give, but I still hope that sometime in my life I can look back and say that I did all I could to do right by him and say that I never quit, that I didn’t stop, that I kept on going,” Smith said. “That’s the softer side of Matt that not everyone saw, but it’s something I will always remember.”
At the funeral in Baltimore, Md., on Jan. 17, Seidler was presented the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Air Force Combat Action Medal posthumously.
Those closest to Seidler offered their thanks and condolences to his family. “To his parents, I just want to say you raised a fine young man, who blossomed into a great tech and an even better friend,” Smith said.
Following the last roll call and taps, Seidler’s family, both by blood and trade, paid their respects at the display of his boots, gun, and dog tags on stage.