Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Memorial honoring fallen Airman unveiled

by Staff Sgt. Jacob Morgan
21st Space Wing Public Affairs

1/8/2014 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Airman 1st Class Matthew Seidler, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal technician, was honored by more than 150 attendees from the 21st Space Wing, his family and EOD members from the area at a dedication ceremony Jan. 5. During the ceremony, as the wind chill reached -1 degree Fahrenheit, Col. John Shaw, 21st SW commander, issued the order to rename El Dorado Street to Seidler Street, the future home of the EOD flight.

Matthew Seidler was killed by an improvised explosive device exactly two years before the dedication -- Jan. 5, 2012 -- while deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, performing route clearance while attached to an Army platoon. The rest of Seidler's team, Team "Tripwire," Tech. Sgt. Matthew Schwartz and Senior Airman Bryan Bell, also lost their lives that day and were honored at the ceremony.

During the ceremony Shaw described Seidler's dedication to the Air Force.

"I am very honored to be speaking here today," said Shaw. "Matthew Seidler was a great Airman and a selfless American and that is what we are here to remember and celebrate. For those who have given the last full measure of devotion to our nation and the cause of freedom, we can never do enough, but we do our best to honor them, to remember them and to follow them along the path of dedication and service to something greater than ourselves."

Shaw spoke on the impact Matthew Seidler had on those closest to him and those who never had the opportunity to meet him.

"We have all certainly come to know of Matthew Seidler's courage and heroism. Whether you knew him directly or not, he has made a difference; not only for this nation, but in the lives of his loved ones, members at Peterson (AFB) and those across the EOD community," said Shaw. "Explosive ordnance disposal is an extremely dangerous job. When there is a threat, Airmen like Airman Seidler are the ones who go forward to safeguard others from harm. To Mr. and Mrs. Seidler and all of those who loved him, I do not know what words or length of time will allow you to truly heal or if the mourning will ever stop, but I hope that the dedication of this street and park may bring some measure of healing."

In addition to renaming the street, there was a park and memorial dedicated in his honor.

The memorial at Seidler Park was designed by members of the 21st CES. Special focus was brought to the plaque, which was explosively engraved by members of the 21st EOD. After accepting an identical copy of the plaque that now sits at the Seidler Park memorial, Seidler's father removed his coat, scarf and gloves before speaking in the freezing temperatures.

"I am braving the cold for a reason today; Matt's entrance into the military started cold," said Marc Seidler, Mathew's father. "When he graduated boot camp, it was the coldest day in 30 years. He stood outside for the pre-run at 5 a.m. and the ceremony at 8:30 a.m.

"How they stood in 13 degree weather in dress blues is phenomenal to me," said Marc Seidler.

Marc Seidler continued by saying Matthew seemed the happiest he had been in years just before he was killed in action. He also thanked the Air Force and the EOD family for the support and inclusion into the EOD community.

"We are here to celebrate Matt, what he did for his country and the Air Force and what the Air Force did for him. We feel lucky that we have had so many of you to hold us in these dark times," said Marc Seidler. "I would never call myself religious, but I am sure spiritual now. I am warmer standing here now than I was sitting down with my jacket on, Matt is here keeping me warm."

Marc Seidler concluded the ceremony with a poem he wrote for his son before his son's memorial in 2012.

Another sleepless night, my son.
Another sleepless night

Our Journey's been long and hard, so long and hard

You went places we can never go
Seen things we will never see

But were closer now, closer now
Closer than we have ever been

You left us when you were so far away, so far away

But we are together now, together now.

Your face we will forever see, because now you are inside of me

We get out strength from knowing that you would have wanted us to know...
That you left us following your dream

And in that dream you will come back to us...
To help us understand.....
That what you did was for all of us...
To protect this great land.

So now that we are closer now, closer now
We reach out to hold your hand

Another Sleepless night my son
Another sleepless night

But we must get up, must get up, to face the day
So much work to do, so many things to say
People must know, must never forget, what happened that day
So very far away, so very far away

Another Sleepless night my son
Another sleepless night
Rest my son, rest, your work here is done.

Love, Dad

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