Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Matthew James Bergman

Mount Juliet, Tennessee

July 26, 2011

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
21 Navy CT2

USS Boxer

 Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Second Class Matthew Bergman fell overboard and was later declared lost at sea after an exhaustive search.

From Navy For Moms navyformoms.com 08/04/11:

Remembering My Son, Matthew James Bergman
August 4, 2011 at 10:44am

Dear Navy Moms,

First I want to take a moment to thank every one of you for the service of your sons, daughters and spouses. It is important to reinforce how important our military personnel are to the United States and her citizens all over the world. I am very grateful to be amongst this great community of people who have joined together to honor those who work everyday to insure our freedoms and our liberties. It is my hope that this entry will be an encouragement to all of you who look to one another for support while sailors are doing what they love to do and that there are no regrets in good times and times of peril. Be encouraged by this post.

Matthew James Bergman was destined to impact the lives of everyone from the day he was born. Everyday he woke up smiling and ready to live each day to the fullest. I cannot remember a time where Matt was not engaged in learning everything about everything. When he started school his teachers talked about his uncanny intelligence and how they felt he was way beyond his learning level. 

When Matt was in the first grade he was placed in classes to test his IQ and in the second grade he went into a program called Spectrum that allowed kids to expand their learning capabilities and exercise their knowledge. As he grew and excelled it was apparent that Matt had a gift to learn way beyond his age range and he was antsy in school. Many times he would even challenge his teachers but they would find ways to help him excel in everything he did. He hated homework and thought it was a bit silly. However, he loved studying with other people and finding ways to help his friends get through school by showing them quirky ways to learn their subjects. He loved his friends and being around people and exchanging jokes and talking about anything and everything.

Anyone who knows Matt would agree that the most endearing quality about Matt was that he knew how to find solutions to just about anything. He was a great listener and helped people come together and resolve even some of the hardest problems or issues that they might be facing. He never spoke out of turn or made anyone feel less than #1. So many times he would happen upon some very difficult situations and he was always able to help people find a way to get through.

Matthew and I were very close. There were no "10 minute" phone calls. We would talk for hours about everything and anything. When he was a senior in High School we would get up at 5 in the mornings and go to the park and walk or jog and talk about all of the things he wanted to do in the Navy. His service to his country was very paramount in his mind and he was determined to do the very best at everything he did, no matter how small.

The years that he was gone for DLI school and his time in Georgia he would call and we would talk about his deployment and his language studies. I feel honored that he shared those times with me. Looking back throughout his life I cannot think of one time where we ever exchanged an ill word. His relationship with me surpassed every trial and overshadowed every personal issue we might be facing at the time. I feel honored that God chose me to be his mother and I will forever be thankful that He saw me worthy to be a steward over such a lovely person. 

I cherish every word that ever passed between Matthew and I. My last conversation with him was brief but the words that I will hold forever were, "Mom, I love you very much. Kiss Hawk for me. Talk to you soon. I love you". 

This Saturday will be both celebratory and bitter sweet. I know he will receive the highest honor and we will stand tall and remember Matthew the way we ALL knew him. Sweet, resolute, compassionate, joyful, intelligent, observant, faithful, loyal, true, honorable, vivacious, ambitious, full of hope and ready to serve anyone at any time. Please hold your heads up for him and remember that his life is a tribute to God and that God knows his name and one day we will all see Matthew again, smiling, waiting and reaching out for us all.

God Bless America,
Melody Paxton

From News Channel 5 newschannel5.com 08/06/11:

Local Sailor Honored For Sacrifice
Posted: Aug 06, 2011 7:07 PM PDT
by Brent Frazier

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Grown men fought back tears while women wept quietly Saturday afternoon, as images of a fallen sailor, from birth to young manhood, were projected on three overhead screens in the main sanctuary of Christ Church Nashville.

"Matt had a huge heart for others. I never saw Matt say a hateful thing to anyone," Pastor Dan Scott read aloud, words written by Matthew James Bergman's own father, Joe.

Joe Bergman, along with Matt's stepmother, Holly; his mother, Melody Paxton; sister, Nissi Bergman; and brother, Hawton Davis; all sat in the front pew wiping away tears at this memorial service for the young Navy man who's lost at sea and presumed dead.

"I didn't know Matt, personally," said Captain John Perrett, a Navy reservist who attended the Saturday afternoon service. "I'm in the Navy. I'm from the same town he was from: Franklin, Tennessee."

Though uncertain of any particulars behind Matthew Bergman's fall from his ship July 26, Perrett was willing to speak to the dangers in general that sailor's face.

"There's a lot of moving equipment, aircraft and so forth," he said. "So, you know, accidents happen."

The Bergman family might never know what truly happened the day Matt went missing. What they do know for certain is he was onboard the USS Boxer, deployed to the Arabian Sea, when he toppled from the ship just off the coast of Yemen.

But his father, Joe Bergman, expressed comfort during an earlier interview knowing that his son died doing what he loved.

"In life, we have to chase our dreams; we have to do what God calls us to do," the elder Bergman said. "And I feel like God called my son to go and serve, and I'm proud of him."

At the memorial service Saturday, members of the Bergman family were each presented a neatly folded flag; the crowd of roughly 100 mourners was also treated to a 21-gun salute, in honor of the young sailor's sacrifice.

From News Channel 5 newschannel5.com 08/01/11:

Sailor From Franklin Lost At Sea
Posted: Aug 01, 2011 8:25 PM PDT
By Heather Graf

FRANKLIN, Tenn. - A local family got devastating news from the military after the search for their 21-year-old sailor lost at sea is called off.

Matthew Bergman joined the Navy immediately after he graduated from Franklin High School.

From his home in Mount Juliet, Matthew's father recalled the day his son decided what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

"He just said, ‘This is it, Dad. This is what I want to be. This is absolutely it. I don't want to do anything else. Can you take me to the recruiter?'" said Joe Bergman.

Bergman said his son was fluent in Arabic, and worked as a translator for the military. It's believed he was on temporary assignment last week onboard the U.S.S. Boxer. The ship was located just off the coast of Yemen in the Arabian Sea, when Matthew somehow fell overboard on July 26th.

Joe Bergman said two sailors showed up on his doorstep to deliver the bad news.

"They said 'Mr. Bergman, we came to let you know you son is lost at sea, in the Gulf of Aden. He's been missing 11 hours,'" said Bergman. "They said that typically these things don't turn out well, so prepare yourself."

After scouring the waters for 72 hours, the military called off the search.

"In life we have to chase our dreams, we have to do what God calls us to do, and I feel like God called my son to go and serve, and I'm proud of him," said Bergman.

He hopes people will remember Matthew for working hard to make his dream a reality. It's a thought that comforts his family, even though answers about his death continue to elude them.

"I don't know exactly what happened. I don't know the details. I know a ship is a dangerous place," said Bergman. "They said many sailors fall overboard. Sometimes they see it happen, and sometimes they're right there."

In Matthew's case, it was not known he was missing until he didn't appear for a 4 p.m. watch on July 26th. Military officials are still investigating the incident.

Meanwhile, Joe Bergman said he's been touched by the outpouring of support from Matthew's fellow sailors, and even strangers.

"Every 10 minutes I get a message saying we're praying for you, from people all over the United States," he said.

A memorial service for Matthew Bergman is set for this Saturday, August 6. It will be held at Christ Church of Nashville, on Old Hickory Boulevard. The service starts at 3 p.m. and is open to the public.

From San Diego Home Post homepost.kpbs.com 08/01/11:

Missing USS Boxer Sailor: A Father Remembers
August 1, 2011 | 9:38 AM | By Beth Ford Roth
Every man who serves in the military is someone’s son, every woman is someone’s daughter. Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Second Class Matthew Bergman, the 21-year-old Sailor who went missing from the USS Boxer last week, was the son of Joe Bergman. As Home Post reported earlier this morning, the Navy announced it called off the search for Bergman on July 29, “when expectations of recovery no longer existed.”

So that we could get to know him better, Joe Bergman has been kind and generous enough to send Home Post this essay about his son Matt:

Matt was a quirky child, extremely intelligent and extremely undisciplined. While in high school Matt jumped two grades in math while in the same year flunked art and band. I asked him, “How could you flunk art?” He just shrugged his shoulders and said, “I guess I forgot to turn stuff in.”

Matt had a huge heart for others. I never saw Matt say a hateful thing to anyone. He was always looking for a way to help those around him. Matt would do anything you asked if you needed help.

Matt had a photographic memory and was very good at languages and math. His memory was unbelievable. Matt won the Davidson county spelling bee in grade school by memorizing the entire study book. He said it only took him a few hours of looking at the pages of all the possible words they would be given. Before the match he told me he would win because he knew all the words. When he was asked to spell a word he would twitch his eye and act like he was looking inside his brain then recall the spelling. The next year he again said he would win. He again won the school spelling bee then went onto the county. At the county contest it came down to him and another girl. They went back and forth several times. Then Matt missed a word. He was crushed. He came up to me and said it was not fair the word he was given was not in their study guide which contained hundreds and hundreds of words. I went and checked out of curiosity. The teacher said Matt was correct they had moved up a level.

Matt decided he wanted to take French in high school. He said Spanish would be too common and easy. He did very well. During his sophomore year he went to France on a class field trip. His teacher said he was the only student that could speak French to locals. She was amazed.

At the end of Matt’s junior year I told him he needed a plan as to what he wanted to do in his life. I told him I would be proud of whatever his choice was and would help him, he needed to only come up with a plan. After a few days Matt came to me and said he knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to travel through Europe, work odd jobs, learn languages and about other cultures. I told him that was a vacation, not a plan! A few weeks later a friend told me if Matt loved languages the military had the best language school in the world, and it would also help Matt with his self-discipline issues. I went home and went to the Navy web site CTI (linguist) section. I asked Matt to take a look. Matt studied the site for about and hour, then came to me and said, “I know what I want to do with my life. I want to be a linguist in the Navy and learn Arabic. Can you take me to the recruiter now?” We talked more about it and took Matt later that week.

Matt now was focused like a laser beam. He was so excited. His life had purpose and direction. I was so proud of his choice.

Matt was so proud to serve his country. After boot camp he came to me and said he had now made Grandpa’s wall. At my grandfather’s house the “wall” had pictures of everyone who had been in the military. My uncles, brother, cousins, father and myself were on that wall. Now my son would be added to the wall.

The Navy had changed Matt and gave him the discipline he needed. Matt was at the top of his class. Matt sent me a fuzzy photo (of his report card) at the end of his class. He had a 4.0.

After DLI Matt told me he did not want to be stateside. He wanted to be on the front lines. He wanted to possibly one day assist the Special Forces on their missions as a linguist. Matt was so excited he was deploying overseas.

On July 27 at 4 p.m. my door bell rung. When I answered the door there were two Sailors who asked if I was Mr. Bergman, I said yes. They said, “Mr. Bergman, we regret to inform you that 11 hours ago your son Matthew Bergman was reported lost at sea in the Gulf of Aden. He was on the USS Boxer.” (I did not know where my son deployed.) They explained there was an extensive search for my son, however, they did not want to give me false hope. It was a long time to be out at sea. I felt the tears come to my eyes. I told them “I have no regrets. Matt was chasing his dream. I am proud of him for that.” They asked me if I was OK, (and) I explained, “My son Matt is either alive in the water with Jesus at this very moment or in heaven in His arms. I am OK.” July 29 I was informed the search for Matt was being called off.

Matt loved God family, friends, and his country. Matt chased his dreams and lived life to the fullest. I have no regrets he served and gave his life for his country. His name Matthew means “gift from God.” He was a gift to me, to others, and his country. Matthew Bergman is my son, I loved him in life and will miss him. I am proud and thankful for his service.

In closing I have this to say to Matt: You made Grandpa’s wall, and you are my hero. I will see you again in Heaven. God always knew where you were and was with you. You were never lost at sea.

From Navy Times navytimes.com 08/01/11:

Search called off for overboard Boxer sailor
By Joshua Stewart - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Aug 1, 2011 11:03:56 EDT
The three-day search for a sailor who went overboard from the amphibious assault ship Boxer sailor ended Friday.

After combing the Gulf of Aden for 72 hours, officials determined there was no chance that Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 2nd Class Matthew Bergman would be recovered.

The incident is under investigation.

Bergman didn’t appear for a 4 p.m. watch July 26. After a search of the amphib, he was presumed to have gone overboard and a search began. The Boxer, as well as the cruiser Anzio, destroyer Mitscher and Military Sealift Command dry cargo/ammunition ship Alan Shepard participated in the surface search. Aircraft from Boxer, Anzio and the carrier Ronald Reagan provided aerial coverage, as did P-3 Orion patrol airplanes and HC-130 search aircraft from the Air Force’s 81st Expeditionary Rescue Squadron attached to the 449th Air Expeditionary Wing at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti.

The search ended at 6:22 p.m. July 29 after a review of search-and-rescue data determined that every reasonable effort to find Bergman had been made.

Bergman, 21, from Franklin, Tenn., enlisted in August 2008 and reported to the Center for Information Dominance detachment in Monterey, Calif., after recruit training. He later went to Navy Information Operations Command at Fort Gordon, Ga., before heading to Boxer on a temporary-duty assignment.

Bergman’s family could not immediately be reached for comment. His father, Joe Bergman, left a post on the Boxer’s Facebook page.

“I understand the search has been called off. The missing sailor was my son, I want to thank all aboard for your prayers and efforts. His dream was to join the Navy and do the job he was doing. I thank my son for his service, and I want to thank all aboard for their service. God bless,” he wrote.

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