The Green Beret killed in Afghanistan in August 2016 was remembered as an “exceptional” service member and a devoted husband who was “deeply loved” by those who knew him.
Thompson’s death was the first of an American service member in Afghanistan since January 2016. Although the military listed his hometown as Irvine, his father-in-law told Heavy that Thompson grew up in Brookfield, Wis.
“He was from Brookfield but he put down Irvine because that is where he and Rachel (his wife) wanted to relocate post military if and when that day came. It’s where they met and graduated from college,” said Jonathan Beyer, Thompson’s father-in-law. He added, “Matt was perfect for our daughter in so many ways.”
Others on social media also fondly remembered the Green Beret as a hometown hero.
Thompson died in Helmand Province, where ferocious battles have been underway between the Taliban and Afghan forces for control, said Politico.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Thompson Went to College in Milwaukee & California, Where He Met His Wife, Rachel & Thompson Was Killed by An Improvised Explosive Device
Thompson’s father-in-law, Jonathan Beyer, posted on Facebook: “As some of you may have heard our son-in-law, Matthew Thompson, was killed in Afghanistan yesterday while serving as a Special Forces medic helping to train Afghan soldiers. Our daughter Rachel met Matt in college and both graduated from Concordia University in Irvine, CA. It had been Matt’s boyhood dream to serve his country this way. Please lift up our daughter Rachel, Matt’s parents, Mark and Lynda Thompson of Brookfield, WI, our family and all of Matt and Rachel’s family and friends in your prayers. We covet your prayers for God’s peace, strength and overwhelming presence during this time of intense grief as we cling to Jesus and know that Matt is well and safe in the arms of our Savior!”
CNN says the IED killed Thompson and wounded another American and six Afghan soldiers.
WTMJ-TV said Thompson was married to Rachel for five years. She told the Milwaukee TV station, “He was just my best friend and he went out of his way to unconditionally love me. He almost didn’t date me because he knew he wanted to go into a really specialized extreme dangerous job. That’s just who he was.”
He attended Marquette University for a time, where he was a resident assistant, said the university.
The U.S. military said Thompson was on his second deployment: “This was Thompson’s first deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. He had previously deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.”
2. Thompson’s Sister Remembered Him as a ‘Hero’ & The ‘Best Brother I Ever Could’ve Imagined’ & Thompson Was a Green Beret Who Was Training Afghan Forces
Thompson’s sister also posted a moving tribute to her brother on Facebook.
“My brother was a Green Beret in the Army Special Forces,” wrote Robyn Thompson, who went to Brookfield Central High School in Wisconsin.
“He was a medic and his job was to take care of his team and the local people and to train their special forces teams so that they could fight on their own against terrorism. Yesterday morning he was killed in action during a mission in Afghanistan,” she wrote. “We don’t know exactly what happened but the military is currently conducting an investigation… He was the best brother I ever could’ve imagined and by far the coolest guy I’ve ever known. Please pray for my family and his wife, Rachel, as this is the hardest thing in my entire life. I know God always works for the good of those who love Him but sometimes we just don’t understand His plan at the moment but I do know He loves each of us very much and I know my brother is in Heaven with Him now. Thank you for all of your love and support. It is greatly needed and appreciated right now. Please also pray for one of his American teammates who was also injured in the attack and the other six injured Afghan soldiers. Please make sure you always thank our veterans. They are our greatest heroes.”
Matthew Thompson also graduated from Brookfield Central High School in Wisconsin in the class of 2006.
The U.S. military said Thompson died while “conducting train, advise, assist activities with Afghan counterparts under Nato authorities,” according to The Guardian.
The operation is called “Resolute Support,” said Politico.
“He was an exceptional Green Beret, a cherished teammate, and devoted husband. His service in Afghanistan and Iraq speak to his level of dedication, courage, and commitment to something greater than himself,” said Lt. Col. Kevin M. Trujillo, commander of Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan, according to a U.S. military press release.
3. Thompson Was Helping Defend an Area That Might Fall to the Taliban
The Guardian says the Green Beret died helping defend Lashkar Gah, a city which “appears to be at increasing risk of falling to the Taliban. Afghan officials say the insurgents in effect control around 80% of the province.”
NBC News said, “In the past day or so, 100 US soldiers were deployed to Lashkar Gah to support the local Afghan police but the victim was not part of that new deployment.”
Friends at Brookfield Lutheran Church have established a Go Fund Me site to help Thompson’s family with travel expenses to receive his body.
4. Thompson’s Job Was to Clear IEDs, Reports Say
NBC News said “the dead service member was part of a foot patrol that was clearing IEDs.”
Thompson enlisted in the U.S. Army in March 2011 as a Special Forces Candidate, said the military press release. The release continued: “Upon completion of Army Basic Combat and Advanced Individual Training, Basic Airborne Course, Special Forces Assessment and Selection and the Special Forces Qualification Course, he reported to 1st Special Forces Group as a Special Forces medical sergeant in August 2014.”
5. Thompson Was Awarded Many Medals, Including Some Posthumously
According to the U.S. military, Thompson’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (numeral 2), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Basic Parachutist Badge and Special Forces Tab.
“Thompson was posthumously awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star Medal with V device, and Purple Heart Medal,” the military release says.
“He was one of the best humans I ever knew,” said his friend and fellow college RA Matthew Manning, according to a post by Marquette University on Facebook. “He was deeply, deeply, deeply loved by his residents and all of us.”