IRVINE, CALIFORNIA - This Veterans Day, members of Staff Sgt. Matthew Thompson's 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) team unveiled a plaque at the Staff Sgt. Matthew Thompson Veterans Resource Center at Concordia University Irvine in California honoring Thompson's service as a graduate of the school.
Thompson, then 28, died August 23, 2016 of wounds after an improvised explosive device exploded while on a foot patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Thompson met his wife, Rachel, at Concordia University and spoke to her two nights prior letting her know that he was about to go on a dangerous mission. He told her he loved her and everything would be okay.
"Matt loved what he did," said Capt. Brian Walsh, Thompson's team leader in the 1st SFG (A). "He was a brother to all of his teammates, and as a medic, had a true passion for taking care of his brothers both physically and emotionally. In his career as a Green Beret, he pursued his love of medicine, shooting, and mountaineering to the point of mastery, so that he could teach others."
"Matt was one of the medics on the detachment, and I was impressed with his medical knowledge and his eagerness to learn all the other skills required of him as a Special Forces soldier" said Thompson's former assistant team leader Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jacob Marker, 1st SFG (A). "Matt was one of the best soldiers that I ever had the privilege of serving with, and he was one of the best people I have ever known. My life is better for having known him, and he will never be forgotten."
The President of CUI, Dr. Kurt Krueger, spoke about Thompson at the event. "We believe Matthew Thompson is an American hero who gave his life in service to his country so that we may continue to enjoy the freedoms so important to us all," he said.
Thompson's parents attended the event all the way from Milwaukee, Wis. His father, Mark, spoke on behalf of the family, honoring Matthew's commitment to his faith and how he strived to live as both a good Christian and soldier. "You can always find something positive to be thankful for," he said remembering Thompson's positive outlook.
Thompson, who grew up in Brookfield, Wisconsin, graduated from CUI with a Bachelor of Arts in theological studies in December 2010. As a CUI student, he was a competitive swimmer and he hosted a bible study group. After graduating from college, he traveled to East Africa and helped start a non-profit organization for homeless boys in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. He enlisted in the Army in March 2011.
In August 2014, Thompson was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st SFG (A) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord as a Special Forces Medical Sergeant. He deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in December 2014 and then to Afghanistan in June 2016.
Thompson's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (Numeral 2), the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Basic Parachutist Badge, and the Special Forces Tab. Thompson was posthumously awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star Medal with "V" device, and the Purple Heart.