Sunday, September 23, 2007

Matthew J. Emerson dies 'of injuries suffered from a non-combat related incident'

A Fort Bliss cavalry soldier who died Tuesday in northwest Iraq knew the dangers he faced when he joined the Army in 2005, and told his brother in their last conversation not to worry about him.

Spc. Matthew J. Emerson, 20, of Grandview, Wash., was an infantryman with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

"He took it on full-bore," the soldier's older brother Joe Emerson said in a phone interview from his parents' Grandview home. "He was doing what had to be done."

Although the Defense Department news release said the soldier died of noncombat injuries, his brother said the family was told he was a gunner on a Humvee that was hit by some kind of explosive. Emerson was thrown from the Humvee's turret and died of injuries he received when he hit the ground, Joe Emerson said.

"He was a small-town kid. Everybody loved him. He didn't have too much to say, but when he did, it was either funny and it was needed at the time or it needed to be said."

Emerson said his brother was generous to a fault. Once when Matthew Emerson visited his brother at school, he commented on a rather pitiful 13-inch television -- the remote control long lost -- they were watching in his brother's room.

"The next day he handed me a receipt. He had gotten me a 22-inch television with a DVD player," Joe Emerson said. "I asked him why he did it, and he said, 'Because I can.' "

Emerson said he had witnessed many other acts of kindness. "He didn't think twice about helping anybody out. He was just that kind of guy."

From the El Paso Times