Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Army Spc. Matthew J. Emerson

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Matthew J. Emerson, 20, of Grandview, Wash.

Spc. Emerson was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Bliss, Texas; died Sept. 18, 2007 in Nineveh province, Iraq, of injuries sustained in a non-combat-related incident.

Tri-City Herald -- A Grandview soldier who loved fishing, football and most of all, his family, died Monday while serving with the Army in Iraq.

Spc. Matthew J. Emerson, 20, graduated from Grandview High School in 2004 and was a defensive back and wide receiver on the school's football team.

"He was real soft spoken. He didn't say much but when he did, people listened. He was my best friend," said his brother, Joe, 22, of Cheney.

His parents L.J. and Ginger Emerson of Grandview were notified about his death Tuesday. He also has a sister, Christine, 24, of Seattle.

He was serving as a gunner on a humvee in the northern city of Mosul. He'd been in Iraq since last fall and was due home this winter.

It's not yet clear exactly how he died, his older brother said.

Emerson was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. He joined the Army in 2005 but started talking about becoming a solider when he was a little boy.

"He loved his country and loved everything about it. He was willing to defend it with his life," said Joe Emerson, who was emotional as he talked about his little brother.

Matt Emerson is the eleventh Mid-Columbia service member to die in Iraq. Two other soldiers from the region have been killed in Afghanistan.

News of his death spread throughout his tight-knit hometown by Tuesday night.

His football coaches at Grandview High remembered him as a tough competitor and thoughtful teammate. He was the kind of player who took younger guys under his wing and watched out for them, they said.

"He was one of those kids who always stayed late after practice to improve. He was probably one of the hardest working kids we've had," said Dustin Lamb, head coach. "He led by example. He didn't talk much but you knew you could count on him."

That attitude extended off the field, said Brad Charvet, a coach and longtime family friend.

"He's just a really good kid. He always wanted to make the right moves, in the classroom, in life," Charvet said.

Matt Emerson was a role model to other Grandview Greyhounds even after he graduated. Snapshots of him and other alumni now serving in the military are on the school's website, www.grandviewgreyhounds.com.

There's also a photo of the young soldier hanging out in the weight room.

"The kids are pretty shocked, as were all of us. To have one of ours fall really brings reality home about what's going on over there," Lamb said. "He was a hero for this small town."

A memorial service hasn't yet been arranged.

Army Spc. Matthew J. Emerson died in Iraq on 9/18/07.

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