Sergeant First Class Matthew Lewellen laid to rest, northeast Missouri pays respects

KTVO - Sergeant First Class Matthew Lewellen is buried at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Jacksonville

Saturday, the heavy-hearted Kirksville community paid respects to one of its own.

KTVO's Ashley Hoak and Stephen Sealey witnessed the Heartland community come together to lay its fallen superhero to rest.

"There are real superheros and I believe my son Matt, is one of them. I'm a proud parent of a superhero and I'm proud to call him my son."

Those were the words of Chuck Lewellen, father of Sergeant First Class Matthew Lewellen.

The 27-year-old was one of three U.S. service members killed during a training mission in Jordan on November 4.

On Saturday, November 19, a service was held at Kirksville Primary School where family, friends and Green Berets gathered to remember his life.

Those who spoke all agreed Matt had a special gift to make anyone laugh.

Master Sergeant Casey Klein, who gave Lewellen the mission in Jordan, addressed the crowd about what happened that November day at the Jordanian air base.

Sergeant Klein spoke on the fallacies reported by the press on the incident.

He said Lewellen and company "were killed in an ambush by a man we thought was supposed to be an ally in the war against terror."

Klein adds, "it was a deliberate and hostile act in which an individual intended to kill as many Americans as he possibly could with no intent of stopping."

He finished with "his men made zero mistakes that day."

In his father's words, "he's always questioned Matt's toughness."

Matt's fellow Green Berets however, felt otherwise.

Two Green Berets agreed that "he put the welfare of the team before himself" and made others strive to be a better person and soldier.

One of Matt's fellow soldiers even went so far to say "serving with Matt Lewellen was the single greatest privilege I've had in my entire life."

Prior to joining the Army in February 2010, Lewellen had a prominent presence in the Kirksville community.

He graduated from Kirksville High School in 2007, where he was named prom king and was a recognized as a decorated athlete.

As the funeral procession headed to the Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Jacksonville, it was clear that Lewellen's life had an impact on Kirksville and northeast Missouri as a whole.

People lined the streets holding flags and signs honoring Lewellen.

No matter how far the procession moved out of Kirksville, Lewellen's presence was still felt.

The Patriot Guard-led funeral procession stretched over a mile on Highway 63.

In Jacksonville, although the sun was shining brightly, a sadness filled the air.

Those close to Lewellen overlooked his casket knowing this would be his final resting place.

The American flag which draped the casket, was presented to Lewellen's parents in its symbolic tri-cornered shape.

Matt is survived by his parents, Chuck and Cynthia, and the rest of his family; however, with the outpouring of community support, Matthew Lewellen is survived by the city he loved.

Donations can be made to the Matthew Lewellen Memorial Fund or to nonprofit organizations serving military families; such as Task Force Dagger, Special Forces Association Chapter 38, and Fisher House.

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