Matthew I Leggett

Matthew I Leggett

The family of an Army paratrooper who was killed in action in Afghanistan last week has released a statement.

The Department of Defense said Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew I. Leggett died during combat in Kabul on Aug. 20. The 39-year-old was assigned to the headquarters battalion of the 18th Airborne Corps.

Leggett enlisted in the Army in May 1995 and had been based at Fort Bragg since 2012. He served three combat tours and was the recipient of numerous awards and decorations, including a Bronze Star Medal with one oak leaf cluster and a Purple Heart for wounds sustained in combat.

His mother, Thea Marie Kurtz, is from Ruskin.

Here is the family’s statement:

“LET’S GET IT ON” was Matthew’s favorite saying when he was on motorcycle rides with his brother Ben or participating in online racing forums. Matthew (Matt) was born in Wabasha, Minnesota on October 13, 1974 to Thea Kurz, of Port Edwards, Wisconsin and Thomas Leggett of Nekoosa, Wisconsin. He has two brothers, Roderick and Benjamin, as well as two nieces and a nephew. He was raised with his brothers in Pepin, Wisconsin. He spent his early childhood and early teenage summers fishing and paddling around the Mississippi river on various watercrafts.

Once the family moved to Colorado, the peaks of the Rocky Mountains could not stop him from enjoying the outdoors. His fascination with the outdoors involved camping, fishing, hiking, running, snowboarding (almost competitively), and sitting in a perfect spot to ponder thoughts. Matt loved racing, either online or in person. He always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail from start to finish. Matt also wanted to ride his motorcycle from the Florida Keys to Alaska with those he was close to.

Matt attended Westminster Elementary School, Hodgkin’s Middle School, and graduated from Westminster High School in May 1993. While in high school, he was enrolled in the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, and moved up the ranks quickly and was able to join the Army as an E-3. He joined the United States Army in 1995, and attended boot camp at Fort Knox, KY. Matt served at many duty stations to include locations in Afghanistan, Iraq, South Korea, Germany, Kentucky, Hawaii, Virginia, Colorado, and North Carolina. Where ever he was stationed with the U.S. Army, Matt took advantage of the travel; he saw everyplace he could get to, on top of mountains, to valleys, and even along trails to take a picture of a lonely rock with a heart carved into it. Matt was the proudest when he became a Calvary Scout. He wore that Stetson Hat proudly! Prior to the start of any mission, he would blast the song “Don’t fear the reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult.

Matt loved to cook using recipes from his mother and grandmother. He enjoyed many varieties of food but mostly he enjoyed Dr. Pepper, coffee, steaks, hamburgers, cheesecakes, and “NATO” shakes. He was able to cheer up a crowded room with a simple tilt of his head and a smile. He was always joking about something and making weird faces, but he always made people smile. If you were not smiling, you may have a prank pulled on you to make you smile.

Although Matt did not have any immediate family of his own, he loved his nieces and nephew like they were his own children. The three brothers were best friends. Matt loved and talked about his family frequently, as his best friends would know everything about his mother, brothers, nieces, and nephew before even meeting them. Matt knew how to comfort people in times of need.

Those who knew Matt will miss his generous heart and his ability to make anyone smile. Matt always cared for others, much more than he did for himself. He wore his heart proudly on his sleeve. He was an outstanding leader who cared for those above and below him. If there were any issues with his troopers, Matt would spend the time to correct them and ensure his troopers were taken care of.

The nation lost a man who could actually change the lives of others for the better. Matt was a soldier, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, and a hero who loved his country and the world. He saw the good in humanity and what we as a human race are capable of. He cherished life! Words alone cannot describe what the nation has lost!

Matt completed two previous combat tours in Iraq and was on his third combat tour in Afghanistan. He was set to retire from the United States Army in the summer of 2015. A service will be held at Murphy Funeral Home in Arlington, VA on September 1 at 3:00 p.m., with his internment at Arlington National Cemetery at 11:00 a.m., on September 3, 2014. The XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C. will hold a unit memorial on September 5, 2014. The family will hold a “Celebration of Life” in Colorado at a future date. As Matthew would say “Meh…19D Sir” “All the Way” “Scouts out!”

Sgt. 1st Class Matthew I. Leggett was buried at Arlington National Cemetery today, two weeks after he was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Leggett, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 18th Airborne Corps, was stabbed to death at a checkpoint in Kabul.

He led a drive team that shuttled coalition troops and officials between New Kabul Compound and other bases in the capital city.

A memorial for the 39-year-old Leggett was held in Afghanistan last week.

Leggettt, a native of Wabasha, Minnesota, was one of three boys raised in Pepin, Wisconsin, by Thea Kurz and Thomas Leggett.

A family statement released Wednesday said the nation lost a man who could change the lives of others for the better.

“He saw the good in humanity and what we as a human race are capable of,” his family said. “He cherished life! Words alone cannot describe what the nation has lost!”

Leggett had planned to retire next year. The deployment to Afghanistan was his third to a combat zone. His attacker was later arrested and confessed to the crime, according to reports.

Sgt. 1st Class Matthew I. Leggett helped others traverse a war zone. In Afghanistan, Leggett, 39, served as the noncommissioned officer in charge of a drive team that shuttled coalition troops and officials between New Kabul Compound and other bases in the capital city.

The roads are crowded and dangerous — not just because of the heavy traffic, but also the threat of attack.

Leggett fell victim to those dangerous streets last week when, after stopping at a checkpoint near the Kabul airport, he was stabbed to death by an alleged low-level Taliban fighter.

This week, those who loved him remembered Leggett as a soldier, teammate, friend, brother and son.

In Kabul, a memorial was held in his honor, and troops recalled the paratrooper as someone who loved those he served with more than himself.Speaking from Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson said the loss was difficult for those deployed.

Anderson is commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command and deputy commanding general of U.S. Forces — Afghanistan.

He also is commanding general of Fort Bragg and the 18th Airborne Corps, the unit in which Leggett served.

“A loss of any of our soldiers here is tragic,” Anderson said. “It’s very difficult when you lose one of our own. … These are all difficult. This one in particular.”

Anderson said the attack proves that Afghanistan remains a dangerous and challenging country and said the Leggett family remains in the thoughts and prayers of those deployed.

“The hardest thing now is not being back there,” he said.

Leggettt, a native of Wabasha, Minnesota, was one of three boys raised in Pepin, Wisconsin, by Thea Kurz and Thomas Leggett.

A family statement released Wednesday said the nation lost a man who could change the lives of others for the better.

“He saw the good in humanity and what we as a human race are capable of,” his family said. “He cherished life! Words alone cannot describe what the nation has lost!”

Leggett had planned to retire next year. The deployment to Afghanistan was his third to a combat zone. His attacker was later arrested and confessed to the crime, according to reports.

In its statement, the family said Leggett loved the outdoors and his family.

He was remembered for childhood summers fishing and paddling around the Mississippi River and, once he was older, for quiet nights in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

“Let’s get it on,” was a favored saying of the soldier, who had goals of hiking the approximately 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail from start to finish and riding his motorcycle from the Florida Keys to Alaska.

Leggett began each mission in Afghanistan by drinking a Dr. Pepper and listening to Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”

In the memorial ceremony in Kabul on Monday, officials said Leggett was known for selfless service and being a proud cavalry scout. They offered a small token of their appreciation by opening a can of the soft drink in his honor.

In addition to his parents, Leggett is survived by his brothers, Roderick and Benjamin, two nieces and a nephew.

“Although Matt did not have any immediate family of his own, he loved his nieces and nephew like they were his own children,” his family said. “The three brothers were best friends.”

Leggett joined the Army in 1995 and served around the world: Afghanistan, Iraq, South Korea, Germany, Kentucky, Hawaii, Virginia, Colorado and North Carolina.

Wherever he lived, the family said, he took advantage of whatever the area had to offer.

“He saw every place he could get to, on top of mountains, to valleys, and even along trails to take a picture of a lonely rock with a heart carved into it,” his family said.

The soldier also loved to cook family recipes, but most of all, he loved to comfort those in need.

“He was able to cheer up a crowded room with a simple tilt of his head and a smile,” his family said. “He was always joking about something and making weird faces, but he always made people smile. If you were not smiling, you may have a prank pulled on you to make you smile.

“Those who knew Matt will miss his generous heart and his ability to make anyone smile,” the family added. “Matt always cared for others, much more than he did for himself. He wore his heart proudly on his sleeve. He was an outstanding leader who cared for those above and below him.”

A memorial service for Leggett will be held at Murphy Funeral Home in Arlington, Virginia, at 3 p.m. Sunday, with burial at Arlington National Cemetery at 11 a.m. Sept. 3.

The 18th Airborne Corps also will hold a unit memorial Sept. 5 on Fort Bragg.

[su_accordion][su_spoiler title=”Help Us Honor Their Memory” style=”fancy” icon=”caret”]

[/su_spoiler] [/su_accordion]

Pepin
08/20/2014
Age: 39
Incident Location: Kabul, Afghanistan
Branch: Army
Rank: Sgt. 1st Class
Unit: Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, XVIII Airborne Corps
Units Base: Fort Bragg, North Carolina