Matt Seidler's first overseas deployment was one he'd never come home from.
The Department of Defense announced today that Matthew Seidler, 24, of Westminster, Md. was killed in the line of duty in southern Afghanistan Thursday.
Seidler, an Airman 1st class with the Air Force, had one of the most dangerous jobs - to detect and dispose of Improvised Explosive Devices, IED's, on a daily basis.
This Thursday that risky assignment led to his death, when a roadside bomb hit the vehicle carrying him and two other airmen in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. All three men were killed.
Seidler was raised and educated in the tight-knit community of Westminster, Maryland, attending Westminster High School, Stevenson University and Carroll Community College. Today neighbors and friends were stunned and solemn as they slowly were informed of his death.
"Its really sad news, it's terrible to hear, especially the start of a New Year," neighbor Tim Pugh said, "And it brings it home right when it happens across the street from you."
The Seidlers' next-door-neighbor and friend, Wayne Parks, said that just recently Matt's parents were proudly speaking of their son during neighborhood Christmas parties, showing off pictures of their son on duty in Afghanistan, posted to his Facebook page.
"He looked awesome in his uniform and you know we all had a lot of pride in what Matt was doing over there," said Parks. "To have something like this happen so soon after he got there is, you know -- it's heartbreaking."
Seidler entered active duty in November 2009 and became an Explosive Ordnance Disposal, EOD, technician with the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron in Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.
"EOD Airmen have been vital to Operation Enduring Freedom, and unfortunately, the pride we'll feel when we see Matt's name on the EOD Memorial Wall at Eglin AFB will not extinguish the sorrow we feel from his loss," said Lt. Col. Mark Donnithorne, 21st CES commander, today, "We will never forget Matt's sacrifice and dedication to his critical, yet dangerous, mission."
The Seidler family today traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware receiving the remains of his body back from Afghanistan in a dignified transfer ceremony.
When they return home, neighbors say, the community is ready to rally behind them. And to remind then about a life well lived by their son.
"When he found the military we saw a boy become a man very quickly," friend Wayne Parks said, "a big change happened and it was profound to see. And it's just tragic that we can't see the next stage in his life."A memorial service for Seidler will be announced at a later date.