September 23, 2012 - For U.S. Army Sgt. Matthew Maddox, 9/11
brings memories of his 5th grade music class. It was there that he
first heard the news that would begin his path towards the Army.
U.S. Army Sgt. Matthew Maddox is a 22-year-old native of
Wallace, Calif., who is serving in eastern Afghanistan with
Headquarters and Headquarters Brigade, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat
Team. Maddox enlisted as a Fire Support specialist in 2007 and is on
his second deployment with the 173rd to Afghanistan. Badly wounded
in an accident in 2009, he has made a full recovery and continues to
serve in the military. Photo by Army Spc. Alisha Grezlik
Eleven years after those attacks, Maddox is serving his second
tour in Afghanistan. But his journey has not been easy.
Maddox joined the Army when he was 17, and left for training just a
month after graduating from high school.
“I had my mind made
up,” he said. “This was what I had wanted to do since the 5th grade,
Maddox attended the Army's basic training and was assigned to
Vicenza, Italy, at the headquarters of the 173rd Airborne Brigade
Combat Team. In late 2009 he deployed to Afghanistan. After six
months, Maddox headed home to California on mid-tour leave, never
suspecting that he would not return to finish his tour. On May 26,
2010, at his home in Wallace, Calif., Maddox was run over by a
“I broke my left tibia, left femur, pelvis, tailbone,
right orbital eye socket and suffered nerve damage to my
right leg,” said Maddox. “I couldn't walk for three months.”
He spent the next 18 months recuperating in
California on “hospital status,” still in the Army, but at
home working on a full recovery. Yet it was nowhere near the
end of his military career.
On Jan. 3, 2011, Maddox
reported back to Italy for a medical evaluation board.
Instead of leaving the Army, he fought to extend his service
and deploy again with the unit. After 18 months of
rehabilitation and fighting for a spot in the fires platoon,
Maddox finds himself on his second deployment to Afghanistan
with the 173rd to settle what he calls unfinished business.
“I wanted to come back and finish a whole
deployment. That was my personal goal. I wanted to finish
what I started,” he said.
Now serving as a fire
support specialist in Afghanistan, Maddox tracks the status
of the 173rd's artillery and mortar systems and their fire
missions across two provinces. In addition to his duties,
he's a newly-promoted sergeant. With four Soldiers working
for him, he has to ensure their success as well as his own.
His enlistment will come to a close at the end of
this deployment, but Maddox still sees a future with the
military and plans to retire with the Army.
get home I am joining the California National Guard, and I
am going to apply for the California Highway Patrol to
follow in my father's footsteps,” he said.
Rebuilding himself from the ground-up with his injuries,
Maddox retains a positive attitude that he passes along to
“If you take pride in what you do
and feel like there is more for you to accomplish, then it
is worth it,” he said. “It is an experience everyone should
endure. I have no regrets.”
By Army Spc. Alisha Grezlik
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