Leta, from the brand spankin’ new blog, From Cow Pastures to Kosovo has a post up about a whole lotta soldiers in the Battle Company 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne) “The Rock”, that are in need of some support from those of us here at home. They are out in the middle of nowhere with not much most of the time.
“Now about that photo at the beginning of the blog. No…that’s not a mountain goat clinging to the rocks under that tree. That’s one of our finest, our bravest. He and his buddy (taking photo) were at an observation post in the Hindu Kush Mountains, Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan (in case you want to google). They man those observation posts for DAYS at a time. Hike to them. Sit there looking for the bad guys. Hike back to the firebase when their relief hikes out to them. The photo was taken this past summer. Just imagine what it will be like on that observation post during the winter. I can’t. “
Damn cold, is what it is!
So, please go over and see if you can help out in any way. Thanks!
I’ve been sending packages for most of this war to young men and women I don’t know who are far from home. Some I get to know through letters or emails, some I’ve had the honor of meeting personally. Some I’ve never heard from at all.
It doesn’t matter. Once I’ve sent a package to “that name”, I become attached and very concerned about the person who owns that name. I check in with the DOD and MNFI to see how things are in the area where they are based, if I know. I watch the list of the Fallen, checking for “that name”. Fortunately, I have only seen one of my guys on the list.
But it hit me like a ton of bricks. And as I packed up the boxes for my next mailing, I sat down and wept ~ his name wasn’t going to go on one of my packages again.
Well, one of my Tanker Brothers sisters, Leta, has just experienced this with one of her adopted soldiers. Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Blaskowski was a helluva soldier and someone you should know.
SFC Matthew Blaskowski
March 5, 1980 – September 23, 2007
KIA in Kunar Province, Afghanistan
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Soldiers from Task Force Rock gathered to remember the life and service of Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Blaskowski (Battle Company 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne) at a memorial ceremony conducted Sept. 28 at Camp Blessing in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. SFC Blaskowski died 23 September 2007 from gunshot wounds when his platoon’s FOB was attacked by insurgents in the Korengal Valley near the Pakistan border.
Matt was known as Sergeant Ski by those who served with him. He was a true American Hero – a Soldier’s Soldier. More so he was a husband, son, brother, uncle and friend to many. Matt gave his life doing what he loved and what he believed in. He had a reputation as a born leader.
In 2003 SFC Blaskowski, according to an article in the Stars and Stripes, was the rear detachment Non Commissioned Officer in Charge after the 173rd parachuted in to northern Iraq in 2003. The article continues by stating that Matt was known as the “get it done” guy while in that position.
Stars and Stripes Article Here
This was not Matt’s first deployment to Afghanistan. He was deployed there in 2005 – 2006 with Chosen Company 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne). During that deployment Matt was awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.
U.S. Army Gen. John Abizaid, U.S. Central Command commander, congratulates Staff Sgt. Matthew Blaskowski, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne) on receiving the Silver Star for gallantry in combat during a fire fight May 3, 2005, in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. The ceremony was held Nov. 30, 2005, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
He was shot in the leg while pulling another wounded Soldier to safety in a six hour long firefight. On 3 May 2005 the battalion’s scout element came into contact with enemy forces in the Arghandab River Valley. An air assault was then launched by other elements of the battalion, and at least 37 enemy combatants were reported killed in the engagement. Blaskowski directed two machine-gun teams into position under heavy fire by enemy forces, where they maintained the tenuous position, effectively pinning down dozens of enemy combatants, while under heavy fire, according to his award citation. Blaskowski suffered a leg wound while coming to the aid of one his soldiers. See entire stories here and here.
Matt was airlifted to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for treatment of his wounds. He then spent time recovering with his family in Michigan before he returned to Afghanistan within three months of his wound to continue the fight against the insurgents with the men of Chosen Company. In this article his grandmother Shirley Blaskowski is quoted “…but once his wounds were healed he packed his bags and headed back to serve his country. “He said nana, it’s my job, and I like doing it.”.
Matt was known for being a mentor, for his leadership, loyalty, commitment and humor by all those who served with him and knew him in civilian life. He was a 1998 graduate of Cheboygan, Michigan High School where he played football and basketball and was a member of the track team. Matt loved outdoor sports including hunting and fishing. His family as well as his military “family” all concur that Matt had the innate ability to make those around him laugh and feel comfortable. He was always available to give a helping hand and to listen.
Matt enlisted in the Army as an infantryman on 17 November, 1998. His military career initially took him to Ft. Drum, NY where he was assigned to the 10th Mtn Division as a rifleman and a scout with the 2nd Battalion 87th Infantry then later with the 4th Battalion 31st Infantry. In 2002 Matt completed Airborne School and was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion 503rd Infantry (Airborne) where he held a myriad of leadership positions. He had earned a college degree in Wildlife Forestry Management and aspired to teach at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Late Sunday night 23 September 2007 Matt’s parents, Terry and Cheryl Blaskowski, received the visit that every military parent dreads. Officials came to tell them that their oldest son had fallen victim to an insurgent sniper and had given the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of this nation. In an email to the Stars and Stripes last week Matt’s mother Cheryl said, “All his family called him their hero. He told his Dad: ‘Dad, I am not a hero. Those who have died are heroes.’”
His grandmother was quoted in The Traverse City Record Eagle as saying, “We’re mad and we’re sad and we’re tired.” She continued, “He was very proud of what he was doing, but we didn’t want to lose him. He was very brave and very strong — maybe too brave.” Sadly SFC Matthew Blaskowski is now among the greatest of all American heroes.
Matt will be laid to rest today, 4 October 2007 in his home state of Michigan where Governor Jennifer M. Granholm has ordered all flags throughout the state of Michigan and on Michigan waters be lowered to half staff in remembrance and honor of Matt.
I have never met SFC Matthew Blaskowski but I had the true honor and privilege of supporting Matt and his platoon this year. In an email he wrote to me on 8 August 2007 Matt said, “Sorry I have not been able to send you a thank you. I came to a base with internet for a few days and then back out to the firebase I will go. Thank you so much for all of the packages. The soldiers and I appreciate everything greatly. Everything you send is perfect nothing goes to waste. I will try and write once a month and give you an update on our conditions here. We recently got a generator out there so we have power for a few hours everyday. We get mail about twice a month by air. It’s like Christmas every time and most of the packages by far are from you. The name of my platoon’s base is called Firebase XXXXX. We are slowly but surely making it better. I have a lot of pictures of the Soldiers that I will try and send to you next time I get to the internet. Thank you again for all of your packages. Also thank the people that are in contact with you who also send us things. The Soldiers and I appreciate everything you do for us and we try to write a letter at least every time we get mail, but we only get to send out mail when someone carries all the letters out to mail them and that does not happen very often. Thanks again for all of your support.”
I emailed a response to Matt that it was our honor to provide support to him and his men. I told him that we believe it is our job (an easy one) to provide support because they are doing the difficult job by fighting those who would rather see this nation in chaos and ruin. I told him we knew they were making great progress and to keep up the good fight but to stay safe. Then I told him more boxes were on the way and reminded him of how grateful we were for him and his men. That was my last correspondence with Matt. It has been a long time since I have been as sad as I was when I received the email from the HHC at Camp Blessing telling me of Matt’s death. Even though I had never met him I knew from the correspondence I had with members of the 173rd as well as from reading accounts of his service on the internet that he was a special human being.
Our prayers along with our deepest and most sincere condolences go out to Matt’s wife, parents, brother, extended family and friends and to his comrades left behind. There is no way to adequately express our thoughts at this time. If one takes the time to read about SFC Blaskowski on the internet one finds story after story about the man he was. He lived his 27 years as a shining example of what humanity should be. It is apparent that Matt touched the lives of anyone who met and knew him in any capacity. He was the best of the best. He lived a selfless life in many ways – one of which was his choice to serve this nation as a member of the United States Army – to defend our freedom and continue to ensure our safety and security. Matt gave his all for us. This nation owes more to SFC Matthew Blaskowski than we could ever give. May his family know that we grieve with them in this time of sadness and loss and that we are thankful for the man he was. May they find comfort in remembering all that Matt was, all that he did and all that he gave throughout his life.
Rest in peace Matt. Our prayers are with you. I know the gates of heaven were standing wide open when you passed through and the angels were there to meet you.
Post written by Leta
Matthew’s family knows that Leta has put up a post in honor of him and will be reading it. So please go over to Tanker Brothers and leave a message for them in the comments, if you’d be so kind.