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
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.
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
Schwartz, 34, of Traverse City, Mich., was assigned to
the 90th Civil Engineer Squadron at F.E. Warren Air Force
The flight commander continued his
personal accounts of the team members.
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
Bell, 23, of Erie, Pa., was assigned
to the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron at Barksdale Air Force
Sakai concluded his personal accounts by
describing the last member of the team.
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
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
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