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Funeral services Jan. 17 for Westminster airman killed in Afghanistan

Transportation DisastersAir Transportation DisastersMedia IndustryAfghanistanFacebookChris Crawford

Funeral services are scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 17, for a Westminster airman who was killed Jan. 5 from injuries suffered from an improvised explosive device attack on Jan. 5 in Shir ghazi, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan.

Airman 1st Class Matthew Seidler, 24, of Westminster, had been assigned to the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. He was one of three service members who died in the attack.

Also killed were Senior Airman Bryan Bell, 23, of Erie, Pa., who had been assigned to the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, La., and Tech. Sgt. Matthew Schwartz, 34, of Traverse City, Mich., from the 90th Civil Engineer Squadron, FE Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.

Seidler, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, had entered active duty in November 2009, according to a release issued from Peterson Air Force Base.

"This is a tragic day for (Seidler's unit), and especially for Matt's family," said Col. Chris Crawford, 21st Space Wing commander, in a Jan. 7 statement. "We will come together to help Matt's family and friends through their grief."

Funeral services will be held at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 9 a.m. Interment will be later that day at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.

Seidler graduated from Westminster Senior High School in 2006. He took classes for a year in business administration at Stevenson University and then started in a multimedia design program at Carroll Community College before deciding to join the military.

In the days following news of Seidler's death, those who knew him remembered him as a staunch friend and good-natured companion.

Bryan Vana had known Seidler since middle school, when Vana transferred from East Middle School to West Middle in the seventh grade, and found Seidler to be a fast friend.

"Matt had a small group of friends … and those guys became the first people I hung out with at that school," said Vana in an email interview. "I was just taking up skateboarding and so Matt and his longtime friend Ted Skorko … ended up hanging out and skating with me as the years passed."

Vana said at Westminster High School, he and Seidler shared an interest in computers, and shooting and editing video.

"He was real sharp and took all of it in very quickly, helping me to edit when I asked for his advice," he said. "We edited the video for school or for ourselves — he helped me with at least two school projects, I received high marks on both."

Vana said he had been "really surprised" when his friend joined the Air Force, "but I was glad that he used me as a reference for his background check."

"After that we kind of lost touch, only really talking every once in a while on Facebook," he said. "That's something I really regret. Matt had all the qualities of a good friend. I've had only a few friends as loyal and kind. … I honestly don't have a single unpleasant memory of Matt."

"When he joined the Air Force, he blossomed. He became himself," said a cousin, Kalyn Masek, who last communicated with Seidler on Tuesday, Jan. 3, his birthday. "I was really, really proud of him and the man that he'd become."

"He loved what he did" for the military, said Masek. Being involved in the disarmament of explosives fed his intellect, she said.

Seidler and Masek, only a year apart in age, were "attached at the hip" growing up. When they were children, their families would go to Deep Creek Lake, Masek said, and the two of them would "cause trouble and get dirty.".

Shy growing up, Seidler became an adventurous adult, she said. On his Facebook page, where his father announced his death to friends and family, Seidler posted photos from trips he'd taken to Paris and New York and hiking and camping in the mountains. He also shared samples of his graphic design work and his preference for the Baltimore Ravens.

Lt. Col. Mark Donnithorne, 21st CES commander, said in the statement that servicemen such as Seidler were "vital to Operation Enduring Freedom."

Seidler was the son of Marc and Lauren Seidler; brother of Justin Seidler; and grandson of Pearl and Aaron Seidler, and Leda and the late David Hoff. He is also survived by other family members, friends and extended family in the U.S. Air Force and EOD Unit.

Those wishing to make contributions in memory of Seidler may send checks payable to: The Matthew Seidler Memorial Fund, c/o Susquehanna Bank, Attn: John Cole, 532 Baltimore Blvd., Suite 202, Westminster, MD 21157; or make a contribution to the EOD Memorial Foundation (www.eodmemorial.org), Fisher House Foundation (www.fisherhouse.org) or the USO (www.uso.org).

Jim Joyner of The Eagle and Annie Linskey of The Sun contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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