POINT PLEASANT — The first casualty of the year for the U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan hit close to home in Mason County.
Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Q. McClintock, 30, was killed in action in Halmand Province, Afghanistan, on Jan. 5, leaving behind wife Alexandra and infant son Declan, along with many other friends and family members.
McClintock’s father, Sonny, of Jacksonville, Fla., is a graduate of Point Pleasant High School and was a member of the military. Matthew’s grandparents were the late George and Helen Maxine McClintock, formerly of Point Pleasant — George passed away in 2010, with Helen passing away just last year.
Matthew’s remains arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Jan. 8 during a solemn ceremony, according to the Army Times website.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Matthew was a Special Forces soldier who was with Afghan forces as part of a “train, advise and assist” mission in Marjah when his unit came under fire.
“Staff Sgt. McClintock died in support of Operation Resolute Support, which is helping to keep Americans safe here at home and helping to provide a better future for the Afghan people,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said.
The DoD describes Matthew’s background as being a native of Albuquerque, N.M., and a veteran Green Beret on his third tour of duty. He was a member of the Washington National Guard assigned to the 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Buckley, Wash.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with them and his entire family during this difficult time,” Cook said.
Two service members injured in the attack were safely evacuated to Kandahar, Cook said.
“We know that there are Americans putting themselves at risk in Afghanistan and Iraq in these positions,” Cook said. “We take that very, very seriously.”
U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan are supporting the Afghan government and Afghan security forces to help the nation secure and defend itself, Cook said.
“The staff sergeant lost his life doing something important,” the press secretary added.
Gov. Jay Inslee, of Washington, released the following statement upon the news of Matthew’s death, as reported by The Washington Military Department: “The death of any service member is tragic. The death of one of our own is especially difficult to grasp. My thoughts and prayers are with Staff Sgt. McClintock’s friends and family, including his young wife and infant son. He is a true American hero who stood up to protect his state and nation. Trudi and I are deeply grateful for his service.”
“Staff Sgt. McClintock was one of the best of the best,” Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, commander of the Washington National Guard, said. “He was a Green Beret who sacrificed time away from his loved ones to train for and carry out these dangerous missions. This is a tough loss for our organization, and a harsh reminder that ensuring freedom is not free. We stand with Staff Sgt. McClintock’s family, and will provide ongoing support during the grieving and healing process.”
In the wake of Matthew’s death, a GoFundMe page has been started to help Matthew’s widow and son meet expenses while Matthew’s benefits are processed through the U.S. Army. The funds will be used for the family’s immediate needs. As of yesterday, the page had raised more than $122,000 in donations. Alexandra had written the following message on the page just shortly after it went up online and immediately after her husband’s death:
“Yesterday I lost the love of my life, Declan lost his father, we all lost a loved one. My husband Matthew was killed in action. Matthew’s greatest wish was to be a father, a husband, and a Green Beret. He got to do all of those things in his too short life. Declan will grow up knowing his father was the greatest man I’ve ever dreamed to know and a hero. I want to thank his teammates for doing everything they could to bring Matthew home to us. Matthew is so deeply loved by so many, please understand during the next span of time I’ll be attempting to find some way to cope with the magnitude of this loss and unfortunately words fail me for once so responses will be slow and if you don’t receive one at all, know I’m grateful for your love and support. I am surrounded by family and our closest friends. Most people never get to find their soul mate, I’m so blessed for the three wonderful years I got to have with mine and for the rest of my life that I’ll get to spend with his son.”
Locally, the Mason County Commission, as well as the Meigs County Commission in Ohio, have decided to lower flags at their respective county courthouses in Matthew’s memory. Matthew will be formally recognized at the next Mason County Commission meeting Thursday, Jan. 21 with a resolution that will include lowering the flags at the Mason County Courthouse the following day on Jan. 22.
To find out more about donating to Matthew’s family, go to www.gofundme.com/mcclintock. Go to www.defense.gov to find the press release referenced in this article. ArmyTimes can be found at www.armytimes.com. and The Washington Military Department found at http://mil.wa.gov/washington-state-military-department.
Reach Beth Sergent firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.