US Air Force bomb disposal technician Matthew Ryan Seidler, 24, died Jan. 5 from injuries after an improvised explosive blew up in southern Afghanistan, becoming the 40th Jewish fatality in the ongoing US wars in the Middle East and the first in 2012. Two other airmen died in the attack.
“He was almost the perfect airman,” said Jason Warden, a technical sergeant at the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base in El Paso County, Colorado, Seiler’s home base. “He was really polite, and he was really big on customs and courtesies.” Within hours of hearing of his death, his friends organized a strenuous hike in the Colorado Rockies in his honor. Seidler had often organized such activities before being shipped to Afghanistan.
Seidler, a Baltimore native, “loved the Air Force. It was his calling. There was no second choice,” his father, Marc Seidler, said at his funeral. “He was very happy with his band of brothers, and [being in the U.S. Air Force] reconnected him with the importance of family. He loved getting the letters and emails and packages. I wonder where he got his bravery from. He never questioned his commitment to his country. We can all learn from Matt. Our freedom is something we should never take for granted.”
Seidler said his son told him in their last conversation that “he was the happiest he’d ever been in his life. He told us he loved us, and that’s not easy for a 24-year-old to say to his mother and father.”
Seidler received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Force Commendation Medal, and Air Force Combat Action Medal posthumously at the funeral, which drew more than 500, including U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, a colonel in the Army Reserves.
Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah Hebrew Congregation Rabbi Yerachmiel Shapiro said, “When it comes to Matt, we have much to mourn for, and much to honor and celebrate,” Rabbi Shapiro said. “We mourn his life just as he was starting to blossom and grow. But we are overwhelmed by the dignity and honor of a young man who gave everything for his country.”
Seidler was in the Air Force’s explosive ordinance disposal unit, and memorial contributions in his name were directed to an organization that maintains a memorial for soldiers of all four US military branches in that field who were killed in the line of duty.
The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Write to the Eulogizer at email@example.com.