Saturday, February 24, 2007

Randy Matheny laid to rest

McCOOK — Almost two weeks ago, thousands of miles away in the searing Iraqi desert, the hearts and lives of Randy Matheny’s family were shattered ... changed forever.

“The hardest thing for a parent to do is to bury a child,” Col. Rod Armon told those gathered for the funeral of Sgt. Randy Jay Matheny, a soldier from McCook killed Feb. 4 in Baghdad, Iraq, during “Operation Iraqi Freedom, in the service of his country.

Randy’s parents and family will live forever after with an aura of sadness, although, Armon said, “You haven’t lost a son, or a brother. Randy is always near you ... always with you.”

Randy Matheny is the 20-year-old son of Jan and Duane Collins and Gary Matheny and his fiancee, Kay Chambers. Randy’s sister, Karen, and his brother, Paul, both serve in the U.S. military.

Randy Matheny graduated from McCook Senior High in 2004 and joined the Nebraska Army National Guard on March 28, 2005. He was deployed with the 1074th Transportation Company of Sidney to Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq, in October 2006.

The past two weeks — since Matheny was killed by an improvised explosive device — have been “a horrible time,” Armon said, but he encouraged grieving family members and friends to hang their troubles upon the Savior, telling about a “trouble tree” into which a man hung his troubles each night. “If the trouble was too much for God to handle,” the colonel said, “they’d still be in there in the morning. But, the troubles were never there in the morning.

“The truth is,” Armon said, “God was with Randy. Randy is with God.”

The colonel told mourners that feeling sad at the death of a friend or relative is a “natural thing.” “But,” he continued, “when you’re feeling scared or lonely or depressed ... when you’re filled with sadness and emptiness, go to God. He will take care of you.”

Armon recited Psalm 91, the guiding Psalm for Matheny’s 1074th Transportation Company: Chapter 2: “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.

(14) Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. (15) He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.”

Armon said, “When you find yourself wandering, turn to Psalm 91. God will take care of us. He will give us peace.”

Armon concluded, “I pray that God heals your pain, and grants you comfort, and peace.”

Joined proudly by the 70 or so soldiers in attendance — including Randy’s sister, and brother — Armon led the recitation of “The Soldier’s Creed,” which says, in part, “I am an American soldier. I am a warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values.”

It continues: “I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade.”

It concludes: “I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life. I am an American soldier.”

Armon said, “Randy was a soldier. We will remember a brave young man who gave his life for every one of us.”

Randy Matheny was posthumously promoted to sergeant, and at the funeral, his family was presented the Bronze Star, for meritorious service; the Purple Heart, for wounds received in action; the Global War on Terrorism Service Ribbon; the Iraqi Campaign Medal; the Good Conduct Medal; and the Nebraska National Guard Meritorious Service Medal.

Nebraska Army National Guard Major General Roger Lempke told Sgt. Matheny’s family and friends, that, of all the honors presented at the funeral, the “Combat Action Badge,” presented to a soldier for contact with an enemy, may mean the most to Randy. Lempke said, “It’s the badge that other soldiers and veterans look for.”

Family members took “one more drag of main,” along B Street and up Norris Avenue, before proceeding to Memorial Cemetery, where the body of Sgt. Randy Matheny was laid to rest, serenaded by the crisp snapping — in 40 mph winds — of 50-plus American flags proudly held aloft by fellow soldiers and members of the Patriot Guard, whose members make it their mission to act as a barrier at funeral services between a fallen soldier’s family and those who would dishonor his or her service.

Music at the funeral service included: “Far Away,” by Nickleback; “When I Get Where I’m Going,” by Brad Paisley; and “I Just Came Back from a War,” by Darryl Workley.

From the Telegraph

Related Link:
Randy Matheny remembered

Related Link:
Randy Matheny dies of injuries from I.E.D.