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

Matthew R Vandegrift

Littleton, Colorado

April 21, 2008

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
28 Marine 1st Lt

2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force

Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

 Killed while conducting combat operations in Basrah, Iraq.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

* Mr. TANCREDO. Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor the sacrifice of a fallen hero and Marine from my district, First Lieutenant Matthew Ryan Vandegrift, of Littleton, Colorado. First Lieutenant Vandegrift was killed while conducting combat operations in Basra, Iraq, just four days after celebrating his 28th birthday.

* First Lieutenant Vandegrift, stationed in Iraq since August 2007, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Lejeune, NC. Matthew was part of a team responsible for training Iraqi security forces. Through his service, Matthew played a critical role in establishing Iraqi sovereignty by preparing Iraqi security outfits with the knowledge and expertise necessary to survive as a free and independent democracy. 

* Born and raised in Austin, Texas, First Lieutenant Vandegrift found his home in Colorado, when his family moved while Matthew was studying international business at Texas A&M University. While at Texas A&M, Matthew maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average, and participated in the Midshipmen Battalion NROTC program. Following graduation, Matthew returned to Littleton, when in 2005 he courageously decided to continue the Vandegrift family tradition of serving America, by joining the United States Marine Corps.

* First Lieutenant Vandegrift fought to protect and preserve the freedom and democracy that we as Americans enjoy. First Lieutenant Vandegrift exemplified what it is to be an American, and he will forever be remembered for his sacrifice and patriotism.

* Madam Speaker, my most heartfelt condolences go out to Matthew's family and friends. He will be missed by all those who knew and loved him.

From Hill Country News hillcountrynews.com 09/29/10:

Vandegrift HS formally dedicated
by Leslee Bassman

Lt. Matthew R. Vandegrift’s memory and sacrifice was honored by the Four Points community on Saturday as the new facility which bears his name was formally dedicated as LISD’s fifth high school.

“Though he died a true American hero, it was the way he lived his life that set him apart from the others ... with loyalty, honor and civic duty,” LISD Superintendent Bret Champion said.

Vandegrift grew up in Steiner Ranch and graduated with honors from Leander High School in 1999. He earned a degree in international business, Summa Cum Laude, from Texas A&M and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2005.

Vandegrift was killed in Basra, Iraq, in 2008, four days after his 28th birthday.

On hand for the moving ceremony and tribute were Lt. Gen. Joe Weber, USMC (Ret.) and vice president for student affairs at Texas A&M, members of Vandegrift’s family, as well as the LISD Board of Trustees and Vandegrift High School staff.

Weber spoke of a museum case display at Vandegrift’s alma mater which houses memorials of 22 Texas Aggie graduates who have given their lives for their country. He reflected on the inscription below Vandegrift’s photo.

“Lt. Matthew Ryan Vandegrift was very interested and concerned at all times in helping people better their lives,” said Weber. “What better legacy to help better someone’s life than a high school like this?”

Vandegrift participated in extracurricular sports activities and was an excellent athlete and competitor.

“We talk about Matthew on a daily basis,” said Vandegrift High School athletic coordinator Drew Sanders. “Because of Matthew, we’re able to talk about honor, discipline, Aggies, Marines and service.”

Sanders related how his team retired Vandegrift’s football jersey #7 and instituted two team awards: the “Most Valuable Player Award” and the “Second to None Award,” which is given to the team member who represents “working hard and putting others first.”

Capt. Harry Boyd of the U.S. Marine Corps sent a video from his base in which he spoke of his fallen friend’s values in life.

“Go out and work hard for the things you need to accomplish but enjoy the things that make you happy,” Boyd said to the students present.

“He was a true brother, a true friend and a well-loved son.”

John Vandegrift spoke of his sons’ “relentless pursuit of adventure,” their love of competition and drive to succeed. Vandegrift’s brother, Barrett, is a captain and helicopter pilot in the U.S. Air Force.

“We must never forget that we owe them a debt that we can never repay,” John said, wiping away tears.

During the program, Principal Charlie Little and other speakers admonished students to take pride and inspiration from their school and the American hero it is named after.

“Every person who talked used the word ‘Legacy,’ and, as part of the Legacies, I felt so honored and proud to be a Legacy,” said Legacies Dance Team Colonel Ashlee Cloud.

From America's North Shore Journal northshorejournal.org 05/25/08:

MND-SE holds memorial for fallen Marine
May 25th, 2008
More than 400 Coali­tion Sol­diers and Marines paid their respect to a fallen Marine at Basra Air Base, Iraq, May 23. Marine 1st Lt. Matthew R. Van­de­grift, was hon­ored in a memo­r­ial plaque ded­i­ca­tion ser­vice. Lieu­tenant Van­de­grift was killed while con­duct­ing com­bat oper­a­tions in Basra, Iraq. He was assigned to the Mil­i­tary Tran­si­tion Team in sup­port of the 1st Bat­tal­ion, 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division.

The ser­vice was presided over by Marine Maj. Gen. George J. Flynn, the deputy com­mand­ing gen­eral of Multi-National Corps – Iraq, and Rev­erend Padre Mark Chris­t­ian, the chap­lain to the forces at Multi-National Divi­sion — South East.

Lieu­tenant Van­de­grift was killed while con­duct­ing com­bat oper­a­tions in Basra, Iraq. He was assigned to the Mil­i­tary Tran­si­tion Team in sup­port of the 1st Bat­tal­ion, 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division.

A plaque com­mem­o­rat­ing the self­less ser­vice of Lieu­tenant Van­de­grift was placed on the memo­r­ial wall in front of Multi-National Divi­sion South­east Head­quar­ters hon­or­ing British and Coali­tion forces killed in South­ern Iraq.

The grav­ity of the cer­e­mony was all the more reflected in the eyes of the Marines as Memo­r­ial week­end approaches.

“It is heart­en­ing to know that, back in the States, there will be that moment in time where peo­ple get together and reflect on the sac­ri­fices made by those who have gone before us,” said Marine Maj. Andrew S. Burch­field, 1st Marine Expe­di­tionary Force Liai­son Offi­cer to 1st Iraqi Army Divi­sion Mil­i­tary Tran­si­tion Team.

Lieu­tenant Van­de­grift was laid to rest with full mil­i­tary hon­ors at Fort Logan National Ceme­tery in Den­ver, April 28.

Marine 1st Lt. Matthew R. Vandegrift remembered

The Associated Press

Growing up in Texas, Matthew R. Vandegrift was the kid in the middle of the rock fight, the one who dropped a cat out a second-story window to see if it really would land on its feet, and the one who put the emergency brake on a car that was rolling down a hill after he saw it in a James Bond movie.

“He was never the guy to start the fight,” said his brother, Barrett. “But he was always the one to finish it.”

Vandegrift, 28, of Littleton, Colo., died April 21 from wounds sustained during combat in Basra. He was a 2003 graduate of Texas A&M, where he was part of the school’s Midshipmen Battalion NROTC program, and was assigned to Camp Lejeune.

Vandegrift fulfilled a lifelong desire to serve his country and to follow in the footsteps of his father, who served in the Marine Corps from 1963 to 1971. “That boy thought I hung the moon,” said his father, John Vandegrift. “It’s the proudest thing I can claim.”

Mary Jane Vandegrift described her son as a charismatic child who grew into a caring man, someone who was determined to better the lives of those around him.

“He was the perfect kid,” she said. “One in a million.” 
Littleton Marine Killed In Iraq
Associated Press, Apr 25, 2008

LITTLETON, Colo. (AP/CBS4) ― The Department of Defense says a North Carolina-based Marine has died from combat injuries he suffered in Iraq.

The military says 28-year-old 1st Lt. Matthew R. Vandergrift of Littleton died Monday after he was injured in Basra. He had turned 28 four days earlier, his family said.

"I'm happy for him that he's in heaven and I'm happy for him that he died the way he did serving this country," Barrett Vandergrift, Matthew's brother, told CBS4.

Vandergrift was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

A spokesman at Camp Lejeune says Vandergrift joined the Marines in 2005 and trained as an artillery officer.

He was assigned to a military transition team with the Iraqi army when he was fatally wounded. His family said he had been in Iraq for about 8 months and was training Iraqi soldiers.

Matthew R. Vandergrift's brother Barrett is a helicopter pilot with the Air Force and his father is a former Marine.

"One of reasons we've all served in our family is because we owe people, really for all of mankind, because this battle in Iraq is no different than any other war," John Vandergrift, the family father, told CBS4. "Good versus evil has been here since the beginning of time."

Matthew Vandergrift will be buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery with full military honors. His family asked that memorial contributions be made to programs that help the children and spouses of soldiers who died serving their country.

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