Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Matthew Tallman remembered by mother

When Matthew Tallman called his mom in Groveland from Iraq, he always tried to ease her concerns about his safety.

"Mom, I'm just a taxi service. You don't have to worry, it's a very safe area up here," the seven-year Army veteran would tell her from the other side of the globe.

But last Wednesday, mechanical problems brought down the Black Hawk helicopter her 30-year-old son was traveling in, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Groveland father of two and crew leader perished along with 13 other soldiers in a crash near the city of Kirkuk that left no survivors, the department said.

The flight was one of scores Matthew had flown since he had left Washington's Fort Lewis — along with his wife Nicole, 27, and two children, Sandy, 6 and Riley, 1 — for Iraq in June.

Before moving to Fort Lewis, Matthew had not intended to leave the ground.

He served as an Army mechanic in Hawaii and during a year-long stint in Afghanistan.

But when he reached his new base, his superiors wanted the seasoned soldier in the air.

And he enjoyed it.

"He liked what he did in the Army," his mother said in a telephone call from Fort Lewis. "He loved to fly."

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Matthew lived for about a year in Groveland with his mother after returning from a spell on the East Coast.

While working at Orchard Supply Hardware in Sonora, he decided to join the Army, enlisting in 2000 and eventually deploying to Afghanistan.

"He sort of tried to put some perspective in his life," his mother said.

The Army suited him and, during the end of his hitch in Afghanistan, Matthew — who was posthumously promoted from specialist to sergeant — reenlisted.

Friends and family remember his sense of humor and love of the outdoors.

"He was just a good all around kid. Never gave his mother any trouble," said Gordon Norris, a 79-year-old Groveland resident who said he used to pick up Matthew from school and help him do his homework.

Virginia last spoke with her son on the Friday before the crash.

She was in Washington, picking up her granddaughter when he called. Like usual, he joked about the dangers of leading a helicopter above war-torn Iraq.

"He had a great sense of humor, he always tried to play things down — especially around me because he knew I would worry," she said.

Services will be held in Cupertino, where Brian's father is buried.

From the Union Democrat

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Matthew L. Tallman dies 'of injuries suffered when his helicopter crashed'