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Airman 1st Class Matthew Seidler, of Westminster, died in january, and will be one of seven Marylanders honored at ceremonies at the annual Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens’ Memorial Day observance, in Timonium.
Airman 1st Class Matthew Seidler, of Westminster, died in january, and will be one of seven Marylanders honored at ceremonies at the annual Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens’ Memorial Day observance, in Timonium. (Courtesy U.S. Air Force)

It was less than six years ago that Matthew Seidler accepted his diploma as a member of Westminster High School's Class of 2006.

He is recalled by classmates as a good friend, serious worker and talented artist and video production student.

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It was less than six months ago that Matthew Seidler was healthy, happy and pursuing a job that his family said he felt he was called to do — serving in theU.S. Air Forceas a member of an elite explosive ordinance disposal squadron.

Yet this Monday, May 28, Airman 1st Class Matthew Seidler will be remembered on the first Memorial Day since his death in January, while serving his country in Afghanistan.

The Westminster native will be one of seven Marylanders honored at ceremonies at the annual Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens' Memorial Day observance, in Timonium, an event that traditionally pays tribute to Marylanders who have fallen in the line of duty over the past year.

Members of Seidler's family are scheduled to attend, according to Nita Walden of Dulaney Valley, and the ceremony will include a brief presentation on the life of each of the seven fallen service members.

The ceremony — which also honors the memory of the more than a half million Americans in uniform have given their lives for our country since the birth of our nation — will take place at 10 a.m., in the Circle of the Immortals at the cemetery, 200 E. Padonia Road.

Seidler died Jan. 5, 2012, from injuries suffered from an improvised explosive device attack during a combat operation in volatile enemy territory in Shir ghazi, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan.

A member of an elite Air Force Explosive Ordinance Disposal squadron, Seidler was killed while clearing a path for fellow soldiers when his vehicle struck an improved explosive device, just after he and his team had located and neutralized two other devises.

He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

He 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.

In addition to graduating from Westminster High, he briefly attended both Stevenson University and Carroll Community College before entering active duty in November 2009.

Seidler was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for heroism, a Purple Heart, Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Air Force Combat Action Medal for his service.

At the time of his death his father, Marc Seidler, spoke at Seidler's Jan. 17 funeral service and said his son had "followed his dream (to join the Air Force.) He was a part of a true band of brothers."

"I've wondered," his father said, "Where did he get his special brand of bravery?"

At that funeral service, Rabbi Yerachmiel Shapiro said Seidler had taken on the dangerous mission of disposing of explosives "to protect his fellow soldiers from harm. ... He joined an elite community of friends. He joined to protect his family and his nation."

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"Just as he was blossoming and growing, he was taken away from us," Shapiro said.

Dulaney Valley has conducted an annual Memorial Day observance since 1967. The memorial garden is the final resting place of more than 3,000 veterans, each of whom's grave is adorned for the ceremonies with a flag placed by members of the Elkridge Young Marines.

In addition to Seidler, those who will be honored as fallen military personnel over the past year are:

• Air Force Master Sgt. Tara Brown, of Bowie (died April 27, 2011).

• Army Sgt. Jameel Freeman, of Baltimore (Aug. 11, 2011).

• Army Sgt. Barun Rai, of Silver Spring (Aug, 3, 2011).

• Army Spec. Ronald Wildrick Jr., of Woodsboro, (Dec. 11, 2011).

• Air Force Senior Airman Julian Scholten, of Upper Marlboro (Feb. 18, 2012).

• Army Maj. Robert Marchanti II, of Baltimore (Feb. 25, 2012).

Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Maryland, Edward Chow Jr., a Vietnam War veteran, will be the keynote speaker.

Other speakers will include U.S. Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersburger and Brig. Gen. Allyson Solomon, Maryland's senior Air National Guard Officer; and additional participants include the 229th Maryland Army National Guard Band, the Maryland National Guard, the Patriot Guard Riders and the Elkridge Young Marines.

Although the service starts at 10 a.m., those who attend may wish to arrrive a bit early. The Maryland Army National Guard will bring a Black Hawk helicopter to Monday's ceremony, arriving between 9 and 9:30 a.m.

For more information on the May 28 observance, call 410-666-0490 or go to http://www.dulaneyvalley.com.

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