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Every Day is Memorial Day: A Gold Star Mom’s Story

 

091130-M-1318S-619Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, an electronic equipment repair specialist who volunteered to fill the role of a gunner with Combat Logistics Battalion 7, was killed in action in Al Asad, Iraq, March 3, 2006. His mother, Julie Francis, tells her story.

They say Memorial Day is a day of remembrance, a day to think of those who have lost their lives for this country. Well, in that case, every day is my Memorial Day. I think of Matt everyday — he is everywhere, always.

Matt was a happy, active child. He was always laughing and was so darn funny. He was always moving, coming up with different adventures to go on. His decision to join the Marine Corps did not come as a surprise. He always talked about joining the military. Maybe he was following in his grandfather’s footsteps or maybe this was his calling. Whatever it was, I could not be more proud. He was so driven and I never doubted he would be successful. I could talk about him forever …

Matt deployed to Al Asad, Iraq, with Combat Logistics Battalion 7 in February 2006. He was originally an electronic equipment repair specialist, but volunteered to be a gunner to meet the unit’s needs. Typical Matt. When a family member asked him why he volunteered for something so dangerous, Matt answered like a true Marine.

“There was a need to be filled and I filled it,” he said. “I’m a Marine— it’s what Marines do.”

Twenty days into Matt’s deployment, life as I knew it, had ended. It was a Friday night when I found out. It was on that Friday night that I realized my worst nightmare had come true. I was only home for a few minutes when it came— the knock on the door no one wants to hear. I looked out and saw two Marines standing there.

What are they doing here so late? I thought. Then, it clicked. My boy was gone. My Matt was gone. I remember standing there, listening to the two Marines and watching one try to write something down, his hand trembling with nervousness, fear, pity. They asked if they could come in, but that would make it all too real. I said no. But they stood there, on my porch, and told me my life would never be the same. I didn’t cry or scream or yell. I answered their questions and shut the door. I couldn’t feel a thing. I was cold, numb, devastated. This must be what a broken heart feels like …

Matt was killed in action when his Humvee was in a severe rollover accident while returning from a patrol March 3. The weeks after his death were a blur—making funeral arrangements, waiting for my son to get home from Iraq and trying to gather my thoughts. Eventually, the crowds of people faded and I snapped out of my blur. All my family was left with was a folded flag and the memory of our sweet Matt.

Has the pain gotten better? Yeah. Have the tears begun to dry? Maybe. Have I come to terms with it all? Never. There is no way to ever fully come to terms with the loss of a child. It’s so totally against nature that I honestly don’t know if it will ever be possible. The best thing I can do is carry on his legacy. I can live my life the way we gave his— doing things for others.

I volunteer with Marine Moms Bethesda, an organization that serves luncheons for the wounded warriors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

My family recently started a non-profit organization in Matt’s honor. The LCpl Matt Snyder Camp Snoops Project was formed to honor Matt’s legacy by promoting education within the schools about Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, patriotism and support of our nation’s heroes.

This is how I will carry it forward. The pain and the loss will never go away — it is as deep now, eight years later, as it was back then. However, I continue on, trying to live in ways that would make my Matt proud and moving forward despite the sadness of doing so without him by my side.

I think about Matt 24/7 and I remember his sacrifice every day. He is never out of my mind and never will be.

(Photo courtesy of Julie Francis)

In 2006, Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder was killed in a rollover accident while deployed to Iraq. His mom, Julie Francis, began the LCpl Matt Snyder Camp Snoops Project to honor her son’s legacy by promoting education within the schools about Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, patriotism and support of the troops. (Photo courtesy of Julie Francis)

 

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  • Tiffany Hedrick

    I just want to say think you to all of you and im srry for the ones that you have lost and for there familys please all of you all be safe and i love all of you even though im not family

  • Jacqueline Quyen Thu Hale

    THANKS YOU ALL -SEMPER FIDELIS If you support your Troops,
    REMEMBER our Troops, and never forget them LATER.”Before you sleep tonight ,safe in your bed .Space a moment to pray for those who stand guard …God Bless Our Troops”

  • Michael Lessnau

    Semper Fi LCpl Snyder

  • Mike Dargusch

    I’m trying to spread the word as well. I write “Memorial Day Is Not A Vacation Day” on the back of my car as I drive around leading up to Memorial Day. I was also an electronics repair Marine as well from 1997-2004. I live outside of Quantico, so my family and I will be visiting Arlington and Quantico National Cemeteries this Memorial Day. My worst fear is losing one of my two boys, so I can’t imagine what you must go through every day. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SACRIFICE AND YOUR EFFORTS!

  • Michael Valdez

    Matthew I remember having lunch with you at subway in 29 palms like it was yesterday. I remember telling you that it was my turn to go to the sand box and you were still recovering from your broken leg just waiting for your chance to go out there like the rest of had already. I never thought at that moment that it would be our last time spent together I always felt like I would see you again. I was still in country when you passed Matt it was only when I got back to Hawaii is when I noticed your picture in a binder hung up on a wall in the our head quarters of service members that had been lost and I could not believe that I stumbled upon your picture. I couldn’t believe that it was you I remember all the fun and jokes we had at Courthouse Bay on Camp Lejeune you were always a joker but the one who would always see the positive side of things and the self appointed peace keeper. I still think about you till this day Matt I might not have known you all of my life in fact you were only part of it but you were my brother and a friend. I can only imagine the hell your family has gone through since you’ve passed as I have read all that has happened to you when you got home. I just pray that your family is doing well and you are certainly not forgotten and thought of on a daily basis. Rest in Peace Matthew and Thank you for your service and sacrifice.

    From the Halls of Montezuma
    To the shores of Tripoli
    We fight our country’s battles
    In the air, on land, and sea;
    First to fight for right and freedom
    And to keep our honor clean;
    We are proud to claim the title
    Of United States Marine.

    Our flag’s unfurled to every breeze
    From dawn to setting sun;
    We have fought in every clime and place
    Where we could take a gun.
    In the snow of far-off Northern lands
    And in sunny tropic scenes;
    You will find us always on the job –
    The United States Marines.

    Here’s health to you and to our Corps
    Which we are proud to serve;
    In many a strife we’ve fought for life
    And never lost our nerve.
    If the Army and the Navy
    Ever look on Heaven’s scenes,
    They will find the streets are guarded
    By United States Marines.

  • Mark Little

    Rest easy my brother , we will be posting your story on >