KIA June 20, 2008
Operation Enduring Freedom
Assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, California
Died June 20, 2008 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He is survived by his wife, Valerie and son, Matthew.
Matthew Mendoza was a third-generation military man, following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, and uncle. Mendoza’s uncle said the Highlands High School graduate played football, enjoyed swims in the Comal River and loved his family and his country. Matthew joined the Marines in 2004, becoming a pistol and rifle instructor at Twentynine Palms, training fellow soldiers in anti-terrorism tactics.
“He had a wonderful 24 years of life here that was cut short way too early,” said his father. “As a Sergeant, his goal was to get all the men from his platoon back home. That was his number one goal; he was going to do everything it took to make sure that happened. It took everything he had.”
He had served two tours in Iraq and was supposed to return from Afghanistan in the fall. Matthew was going to re-enlist next month, his family said. He wrote on his social media page, “I’m going to re-up when I get back and try to get stationed in Texas. We’ll see how that goes. Pretty much I’m not the same kid I was 4 years ago. Life has a way of throwing things at you. You got to take ‘em all on and never back down because the day you do, they win.” He also wrote about his love for his wife, his 6 year old son, family and friends. He said his wife and parents were his heroes, and that his little boy was becoming more and more like him.
Sgt Matthew Mendoza was 24 years old from San Antonio, Texas.
Original portrait was presented November 3, 2012 to his parents and family during the annual AFSP Charity Trials held in Donie, Texas.