Matt Hermanson surprised everyone when he enlisted in the army right out of high school. The youngest of three brothers, he did not even tell his family until two weeks before he had to report for boot camp.
“We were all shocked,” said his sister in-law Kathryn Hermanson. “We all tried to talk him out of it, but he was determined.”
Just 18-years old, the kid previously known for his affinity for Legos and video games, felt he had a duty to serve his country, and he did it with both a sense of honor and an aptitude that belied his tender years.
By the time he was 22-years old he had achieved the rank of staff sergeant, following one tour of duty in Iraq, and midway through another in Afghanistan.
“It was scary to see him go,” Kathryn said. “Here he was this homebody type person who was so young and hadn’t really experienced life and, you know, what are you going to do away from Mom? But, he proved us wrong. He really thrived. He would come home on leave or call and we could see that he was thriving. He truly did great at it. He impressed us all for sure.”
He impressed everyone, including his fellow soldiers, who continue to tell stories of Matt’s bravery. Matt’s ultimate act will stand forever as a symbol of how American freedom comes at a painful price.
On April 28, 2011 Matt died from wounds he suffered when his unit took small arms fire in the Wardak province of Afghanistan. He was only 22-years old.
“He made the ultimate sacrifice but, to him, that’s what it took,” Kathryn said. “He saved his guys. He took a bullet for all of them. He died protecting his unit.”
Matt left behind his new wife, Rachel, his parents Sandy and Jeff Hermanson, his older brothers Josh and Nate, their wives Kathryn and Audra and his nieces and nephews Hailey, Tyler, Annabelle, Alea, Maisy, and Ruby.
Six years after Matt died, Nate and Audra had a fourth child, a son. They named him Matthew.
On this Memorial Day, a few weeks after the 10th anniversary of his death in the line of duty, we honor Matthew Hermanson and every member of our military who has died in the name of freedom.
Rest in peace and glory. We will not forget.