Friday, July 27, 2007

Matt Zindars remembered

The father of a 21-year-old Watertown Marine killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq this week said the loss of his son does not change his opinion of current U.S. military action in that part of the world. And one of Cpl. Matthew Ross Zindars' high school teachers told the Daily Times Wednesday afternoon that Zindars had always made it clear his dream was to be a Marine.

Zindars' father, Ken, said this morning further information provided by the Marines on Wednesday indicated his son was killed, along with two other Marines and a Navy corpsman, by a roadside ordnance Tuesday morning in Ramadi, Iraq. Zindars was notified of his son's death Tuesday afternoon. The servicemen were on patrol at the time they were attacked.

Zindars said the Marines did not specify a time when his son's remains might be returned to the United States. He said he is awaiting notification.

Zindars also offered some insight into his son's activities during his recent, second stint in Iraq. Zindars returned from his first tour of duty in Iraq in October of 2006 and volunteered to go back for a second tour in 2007. He was scheduled to return to the U.S. this October. His unit's job was to perform security operations and clear explosives from roadways.

“I see Matt as being over there to keep the peace,” Zindars said. “We changed from being aggressive to being peacekeepers. We have been trying to stabilize the situation and keep those factions there from killing each other. You've got to maintain order. They were just patrolling and trying to maintain peace.”

Jolene Goeden-Massuch is a family and consumer education instructor at Watertown High School. She also directs the culinary and hospitality program. She said Zindars was in her program as a co-op student in recent years and worked at Settler's Bay as part of his participation. Zindars graduated from the high school in 2004. Prior to that, he attended Trinity-St. Luke's Lutheran School.

Goeden-Massuch said Zindars acquired his dedication to the Marines early in life. He joined the Marines at age 18, while he was still in high school.

“Matt had one goal ever since I knew him and that was to be a Marine,” she said. “He would say, ‘You know I am going to be a Marine,' and he fulfilled his goal.”

She recalled that Zindars returned to Watertown on one occasion and paid her a visit. She noticed immediately how pleased he was to be in that branch of the service.

“He came back to visit with a friend and he was just so proud to be part of the armed services. He was a very compassionate and kind gentleman, with a soft and gentle nature with people and the other students in my classroom,” she said.

She said she had a discussion with Zindars about his goal to serve his country.

“We sat down and talked about what it meant to be a Marine and how they are total persons and how they have compassion for people,” she said. “(Those qualities) are why he was so proud to be a Marine.”

Cody Seibel grew up with Zindars. The pair, only a month apart in age, met over a game of Legos when they were 5 years old. Seibel said he believed his longtime friend gave his life doing something he wanted to do, and had chosen the Marines because his goal was to prove to himself he could withstand even the most rigorous physical and mental testing. While he was in the Marines, Seibel said Zindars would always try to become involved in the most demanding tasks, such as working with artillery, or in combat.

Seibel described Zindars as being “the best friend you could have.”

“He always made you laugh,” he said.

Seibel said Zindars had a fondness for working out at the gym.

“He liked lifting weights,” he said. “We started doing that in the basement when we were 14, you know, with those plastic weights.”

Seibel added that he took his first vacation with Zindars at the age of 14, as well, to Disney World in Florida.

Seibel said the pair went out to celebrate their 21st birthdays not long ago, and Seibel said he and friends were already planning a welcome-home party for Zindars in October.

“We were going to have a big party when he came back, but we didn't even get a chance to tell him about it,” he said.

Ken Zindars noted that, despite the loss of his son, he believes a “bailout” of U.S. troops too early will throw Iraq into dangerous instability. He said he thinks it might even open doors to a conflict with Iran.

“Who doesn't want to get out of there as soon as possible?” He said. “But my son was biding his time. Matt believed in what he was doing.”

From the Watertown Daily Times

Related Link:
Matthew Zindars reported killed in Iraq