Humor, Heroism Define Fallen Marine
(July 7, 2011)
CAMP DWYER, Helmand province, Afghanistan (7/1/2011) -
Silence settled over Patrol Base Lambert after Cpl. Matthew
T. Richard's memorial service. A steady current of hot
desert air coursed its way through the Helmand combat
position where Richard's squad huddled together, finding
comfort in each other's presence. |
Comfort was an arm
draped over a shoulder: two Marines standing side by side,
their pained, bleary-eyed smiles reflecting an internal
collision of courage and despair.
More than anything,
the Golf Company squad seemed to remember the fallen team
leader of Iota, La., for his unbridled, comical personality
and contagious enthusiasm, which were manifest even in his
“He was an amazing Marine but could get on
your nerves sometimes, ‘cause he was quick to add what he
thought of the conversation or situation,” said Sgt.
Jonathan Moulder, Richard's squad leader. “That's who he was
though, and I wouldn't have changed it for anything.”
In fact, Richard excelled in the Marine Corps. He
impressed Moulder as an extraordinarily driven individual
who strove to “be the best at anything he was doing or put
his mind to.” The effusively energetic team leader was
combat meritoriously promoted to his present rank in March,
one month before his 21st birthday.
observed Richard's sense of responsibility for his junior
“I would say that he lead them to the best
of his abilities,” Moulder said. “He loved his junior
Marines in almost every way possible. He took care of them
and wanted to ensure that they didn't get hurt in any way.”
Off duty, Richard was always looking for fun, said Lance
Cpl. Gary Walsh, an infantryman in Golf Company and a close
friend of Richard. Richard enjoyed fishing, drinking beer,
and the nightlife of Myrtle Beach on a long weekend. He
loved Outback Steakhouse, but fried pickles from Hooters
were his favorite. At the barracks, he was commonly sighted
with a smile on his face and a beer in hand.
the memorial and afterward, the Marines who knew Richard
held nothing back. Humor and heroism blended in stories of
youthful optimism as uncompromising as Richard's
“He was quick to jump in to any
situation even if he had no clue what was going on,” Walsh
said. “He was an outspoken individual. You knew he was there
and would add his two cents to anything.”
describes a bold, outgoing, endearingly vain Marine.
“He was a gym rat like myself, but I would always catch him
in the smallest mirror possible just flexing away right
after a workout,” Moulder said.
The combination of
his virtues and petty vices were his essence: the memory
that Golf Company cherishes.
“My lasting impression
of Matt was that he was the best friend a guy could have,”
Walsh said. “He will never be forgotten by anyone who had
the privilege of spending any time with him. From his big
goofy smile to his antics, he was one of a kind who will
never be replaced.”
made the ultimate sacrifice, June 9, while supporting combat
operations in Northern Marjah, Helmand province, as a part
of Operation Enduring Freedom.
awards include the Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon,
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and Marine Corps
Good Conduct Medal.
Richard is survived by his
parents, Jeff and Alicia, and his siblings, Joshua and
By USMC Sgt. Jesse Stence
Regimental Combat Team 1
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