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Service Members Pay Last Respects To Fallen Airmen, Heroes
by USAF Staff Sgt. David Carbajal - February 1, 2012

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CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (1/24/2012) - About 100 airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines paid their final respects to three 466th Air Expeditionary Squadron airmen during a memorial ceremony Jan. 24 at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.

From left to right, Chief Master Sgt. Robert Sealey, Air Forces Central command chief; Brig. Gen. Thomas Deale, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing commander; and Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Vallely, 451st AEW command chief, render salutes to the battle crosses of three fallen airmen during a memorial ceremony at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Jan. 24, 2012. The three airmen were explosive ordnance disposal technicians who were killed Jan. 5, 2012 by an improvised explosive device in Shir ghazi, Helmand province, Afghanistan. Photo by USAF Staff Sgt. David Carbajal
From left to right, Chief Master Sgt. Robert Sealey, Air Forces Central command chief; Brig. Gen. Thomas Deale, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing commander; and Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Vallely, 451st AEW command chief, render salutes to the battle crosses of three fallen airmen during a memorial ceremony at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Jan. 24, 2012. The three airmen were explosive ordnance disposal technicians who were killed Jan. 5, 2012 by an improvised explosive device in Shir ghazi, Helmand province, Afghanistan. Photo by USAF Staff Sgt. David Carbajal

 The explosive ordnance disposal team was killed Jan. 5 when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Shir ghazi, Helmand province, Afghanistan.

“To most people in the world, Tech. Sgt. Matthew Schwartz, Senior Airman Bryan Bell and Airman 1st Class Matthew Seidler are simply three individuals that passed away on Jan. 5, 2012,” Capt. Mark Sakai, Combined Joint Task Force Paladin explosive ordnance disposal flight commander said during the memorial. “To a smaller number of individuals, they may be three American service members that died in the line of duty. To an even smaller faction, they may be heroes. To those gathered here and to the many whose lives were touched by Big Matt, Bryan and Little Matt, they are much more.”

Sakai went on to describe the members of “Team Tripwire” from a personal standpoint.

“Matt Schwartz, he was the life of the party. He had an infectious sense of humor and an inquisitive mind that often resulted in lengthy debates of all sorts of matters. Matt was also an excellent team leader. He constantly passed on his wealth and knowledge and an array of ideas to his team members in order to develop their skills as well.”

Schwartz, 34, of Traverse City, Mich., was assigned to the 90th Civil Engineer Squadron at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.

The flight commander continued his personal accounts of the team members.

“Bryan Bell, he was a gentle giant. He had a big goofy grin in the morning that could brighten anyone's day. It was just simply tough to find him without a smile on his face. He also had a unique sense of humor that was often very difficult to replicate. As an EOD tech, Bryan strived for perfection. This would sometimes translate into weakness as he would get extremely frustrated with himself. He only wanted to do the job right the first time every time regardless of his difficulties.”

Bell, 23, of Erie, Pa., was assigned to the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.

Sakai concluded his personal accounts by describing the last member of the team.

“Matt Seidler, Little Matt, or Frodo as he was known by some members of the flight, was the junior man of the team. He also had a quick wit and loved a good debate. As an EOD tech, he, like Bryan, was always striving to do better and wasn't satisfied unless he was performing his duties. He loved the job and it literally showed.”

Seidler, 24, of Westminster, Md., was assigned to the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

“Team Tripwire is gone but not forgotten. We remember,” said Sakai.

The team members were posthumously awarded three distinguished decorations for their contribution to Operation Enduring Freedom: The Bronze Star with Valor, Purple Heart and the Air Force Combat Action Medal.

Chaplain (Lt.) Bryan Davenport, the chaplain for 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), concluded the ceremony with the following words, “I paraphrase some words by Robert Lacky, a Marine and veteran of the brutal island campaigns of World War II. It is to sacrifice that men go to war. They do not go to kill; they go to be killed. To risk their flesh; to insert their precious persons in the path of destruction. Sacrifice says not the blood of your brother, my friend. Your blood. That is why women weep when their men go off to war. They do not weep for their victims. They weep for them as victims. That is why there is no glorious living, only glorious dead. And may we forever cherish the sacrifice of those who have gone before us.”

By USAF Staff Sgt. David Carbajal
451st Air Expeditionary Wing
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2012

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