Remembering Rangers Who Have Made the Ultimate Sacrifice
75th Ranger Regiment
Information and Sentiments
Date of Birth: February 18, 1981
Date of Death: March 4, 2002
Birthplace: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Killed in Action: Near Gardez, Afghanistan, Battle of Takur Ghar
Matthew A. Commons was born on February 18, 1981. His mother is Patricia Ann (Commons-Craig) Marek. His father is Gregory James Commons. Matt, his parents and brother Aaron Marek Commons lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana until October of 1984. The Commons family then moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where both Greg and Pat had lived most of their lives. When Matt and Aaron were tots, Greg and Pat divorced in 1986.
Matt and Aaron attended Small, Small World Daycare and school, Indianapolis, Indiana. Matt attended Kindergarten there and then first grade at St. Bernadette School. St. Bernadette closed after Matt’s first grade year and he began his second grade year at Holy Name School. In October 1988 Pat, Matt and Aaron moved to Lakewood, Colorado. The boys attended Green Gables Elementary School where Matt finished his second grade year and Aaron finished Kindergarten. Pat and the boys moved in 1989 to Morrison, Colorado where the boys attended Parmalee Gulch Elementary School, Matt in third grade and Aaron in first grade. In August of 1990, Pat married Robert W. Craig and they moved to Boulder City, Nevada. Matt attended fourth grade at Martha P. King Elementary school. He went to Garrett Middle School in Boulder City and then attended Boulder City High School, where he graduated with Honors in 1999.
Matt began playing soccer at the age of five and continued playing soccer until he graduated from high school. He even played soccer for the 1st Ranger Regiment at the Ranger Rendezvous in the summer of 2001. He played basketball for a year in middle school and played floor hockey and baseball through the parks and recreation department in Boulder City in elementary and middle school. During high school he and Aaron played roller hockey. Matt loved roller hockey and spent a lot of time in the penalty box for roughing opponents. He said that hockey was the only sport where you could legally fight and only get a penalty for it. Matt was competitive and loved sports.
He loved playing computer games and video games. Matt, Aaron, and their friends would sit for hours playing video games. As long as Matt was in the house, there was noise, music, talking and laughter. Matt loved his music and was always singing and dancing. He loved rap music.
He was very macho, or at least thought he was. He was a happy person and a clown. He liked making people laugh and he liked being goofy. He is remembered most by his smile and humor. When he was a child, he used to kiss me and blow in my mouth. When he was a teenager and even before he deployed, he used to tease me by burping and blowing the burp into my face. He had allergies and was always blowing his nose so had Kleenex all over the house. And he never closed the front door.
Matt was elected to the student council his senior year. That was probably the best year of his life. He started dating a girl whom he fell in love with and went to all the dances and prom with her. He was on top of the world that year, and life was really good. He did great in school.
During his junior and senior years in high school, Matt worked on the Desert Princess on Lake Mead. He started out as a deck hand and then moved on to prep cook. He had some great times working there. There were a lot of Boulder City kids working on the boat. Aaron got a job on the boat with Matt and for one summer they worked together. At the wake at the funeral home, Matt’s friends told some funny stories about some of the bets they used to make with each other. One in particular was that Matt bet his best friend that he wouldn’t toss the bus tub full of dirty dishes and silverware into the lake and he friend did!
Matt and Aaron—that’s almost one word—MattnAaron. They were together all their lives until Matt went to college and then to the military. When they were young they slept in the same room and many times I found them sleeping together. They would giggle and talk until they fell asleep. When they had their own rooms, they still frequently got together for the night. But as they matured they talked and played together. They fought, bickered, and duked it out too. I even bought them boxing gloves and told them to take it outside so they wouldn’t dirty my carpet. They told each other everything. They were as close as twins. If anyone knows Matt, it is definitely Aaron. They shared a lot of secrets.
After high school, Matt wanted to enlist in the military, but his dad, step-dad and I talked him out of it. So he attended the University of Nevada, Reno for a year. He truly enjoyed college life and his freedom—especially snowboarding. Early in the first semester, he and his high school girlfriend broke up. He was very upset and I don’t think he ever got over her. He really did love her. He joined a fraternity his second semester and that was the end of his studies. Since he was asked not to return to Reno for another year, he decided he would join the Army to become Ranger.
In July of 2000 Matt enlisted in the Army on a path to become a Ranger. He had always wanted to go into the military. After he died, I read one of his high school papers. In it he stated that he owed his country two things: to vote and to serve his country in the military. He was fascinated with special operations and so decided on the Rangers. He wanted action and challenge.
Matt went to basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was assigned to B Company. It was a 14 week training, which also included AIT. After graduating from basic infantry training, he attended a two-week school for the Javalin missile while awaiting his rotation into jump school. He graduated Airborne training and then cycled into Ranger Indoctrination Program training. He graduated RIP the end of March 2001, where he got his black beret and Ranger scroll and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 1st Platoon, A Company, at Hunter Army Air Base in Savannah, Georgia. He typically trained as a SAW gunner. Matt loved what he was doing and was so proud. He left Boulder City as a silly kid and went to 1st Battalion well on his way to manhood.
In June of 2001, Matt came home for block leave. While he was home visiting, he bought a black Ford Ranger Edge truck. He was very proud of his ability to buy the truck and take care of himself. During this time, his step-father and I divorced. The rest of Matt’s leave was spent in helping me to sort through his things and help me pack to sell the house. He and Aaron drove together from Boulder City, Nevada to Alexandria, Virginia, to visit their dad, stopping along the way to stay with relatives and friends. Matt spent a day or two with his dad, Greg Commons, step-mom Linda Chapman, and half-brothers, Patrick and Thomas Commons while in Alexandria. Then he drove back to Hunter Army Air Base. Aaron decided to attend college at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, so we moved to Colorado in time for him to start school. When 9/11 ripped America’s sense of security apart, there was a foreboding.
In early October 2001 Matt was scheduled to attend Ranger School for leadership training but was pulled to begin training for war in earnest. December 10 Matt was given a 10-day pre-deployment leave. He could not tell his family where he was going; just that he was being deployed. He came to visit his mom and family in Colorado for five days and spent five days with his dad in Virginia. A few days after Christmas 2001, the 1st Ranger Battalion, A Company, was sent to Baghram, Afghanistan. Matthew celebrated his 21st birthday in Afghanistan, just two weeks before his death.
Operation Anaconda started the beginning of March 2002 and on March 4, two Ranger quick reaction teams were selected for a mission to rescue a fellow Special Operations soldier. Navy SEAL Neal Roberts had fallen out of a helicopter when they were ambushed while on a reconnaissance mission. The area was too hot for his teammates to return. Within hours the quick reaction team was enroute. However due to communications problems, the rescue teams also tried landing where the SEAL team had been ambushed. Matt’s helicopter was disabled by an RPG and crash landed in the middle of the hot zone. Upon exiting the craft three Rangers were killed immediately, including Matt, and a Nightstalker gunner was killed. The battle ensued and the Rangers endured for 12 hours. During that time an Air Force PJ was critically wounded.
Matthew was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star with Valor, Meritorious Service Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, and was posthumously promoted to Corporal. CPL Matthew A. Commons was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on March 11, 2002, six months after 9/11. Air Force PJ, Jason Cunningham is buried next to Matt. Their graves face the Pentagon section that was struck by the terrorists. CPL Matthew A. Commons is located in Section 66, site 6855.
Since Matthew’s death, the VFW Post 36 in Boulder City, NV has been renamed and reorganized. The post is now named the CPL Matthew A. Commons Memorial VFW Post 36. The City of Boulder City, NV now has a memorial dedicated to the seven killed on March 4, 2002 located in Veterans’ Memorial Park, on Commons Way (named after Matt), in Boulder City, NV. The 1st Ranger Battalion is constructing a memorial for all their fallen Rangers in Savannah, Georgia. The memorial should be completed fall of 2007. A building at Hunter Army Air Base, where Matt was stationed with 1st Ranger Battalion, bears Matt’s name. The Army has named a chapel in honor of Matt at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, called Commons Memorial Chapel. Matt has his name engraved on stones in the Southern Nevada Veterans Cemetery, the Ranger Memorial at Fort Benning, GA and on memorial walls at the Army Special Operations Command at Ft. Bragg, NC and the Special Operations Command at Tampa, FL. Since Matt was the first Indiana born casualty in the war of freedom, the Indiana War Memorial has constructed a permanent display in their museum featuring Matt and depicting the war in Afghanistan. Parmalee Elementary School in Colorado, where Matt attended third grade, has a plaque with pictures of Matt on their “Heroes Wall”. The VFW Post 12009 in Conifer, Colorado also bears the names of Chew-Commons-Slocum, honoring these war heroes as the first killed from Colorado in the last three major US conflicts.
The week before Matt died, he went to the Chaplain in his compound and talked to him. The day of the mission, they prayed together and afterward, Matt told the chaplain he wanted to receive Jesus in his life and commit himself to God. Within eight hours of committing himself to Jesus, he went home to the Lord.
PEOPLE DIE THE WAY IN WHICH THEY LIVE.