- NATO Kosovo Force
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Freedom’s Sentinel
- Operation Inherent Resolve
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation New Dawn
- Operation Octave Shield
- Operation Odyssey Lightning
- Operation Spartan Shield
- U.S. Africa Command Operations
- U.S. Central Command operations
- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew R. Kahler
Died January 26, 2008 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom
29, of Granite Falls, Minn.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy; died Jan. 26 at Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained from small-arms fire in Waygul, Afghanistan.
Soldier dies after possible friendly fire
The Associated Press
GRANITE FALLS, Minn. — An Army sergeant killed in Afghanistan believed in his mission battling “thugs and hoodlums,” his father said.
Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Ryan Kahler, 29, of Granite Falls, died Saturday after being shot in Waygul. The Defense Department said Kahler may have been hit by friendly fire from an Afghan guard who mistook him for the enemy.
Kahler, who served in Iraq as well as Afghanistan, thought often of his family, his father Ron said on Monday.
“He told me there is a group of thugs and hoodlums who want to rule the world,” Ron Kahler said. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were about keeping the world safe from those people, Kahler said.
Matthew Kahler and his wife, Vicki, have a 4-year-old daughter. The family had been stationed in Vicenza, Italy, for about eight years, his father said.
Ron Kahler said he advised his son to join the Special Forces when Matthew Kahler joined the Army the summer of his junior year at Yellow Medicine East High School. Special Forces would teach Matthew how to survive, his father believed.
Matthew took his father’s advice. He was a member of 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
“But now, he’s coming home but he’s not coming home alive,” Kahler said.
Students and staff at Yellow Medicine East High School were absorbing the news of Matthew’s death on Monday. Many of his nieces and nephews are students, Principal Karen Norell said.
Matthew Kahler graduated in 1997; his wife also attended the school.
Rene Diebold of Marshall said Kahler was a longtime friend of her son Dixon.
“As a high school student, (Matthew) was just one of those kids who came over and when you invited him to dinner he was so appreciative and so respectful,” Diebold said.
Dixon Diebold remembered starting a stereo shop in Granite Falls with Kahler when the two were young teenagers. “It was less business and more goofing off,” Diebold said of the pair’s business venture. He also remembered Kahler as a “kind of scrawny” wrestler in high school who always seemed to be competing despite being in pain.
“He was one of the most loyal people,” Diebold said. “I’m sure that’s the way he was with his men.”
Ron Kahler said his son first wanted to be in the military when he was around 10 years old. Matthew was happy with what he was doing, his father said.
Kahler was born in Iowa and lived in Montevideo for several years before he eventually moved to Granite Falls in about 1989, Ron Kahler said.
Funeral arrangements were pending.
Hundreds honor Granite Falls soldier on his final trip home
The Associated Press
GRANITE FALLS, Minn. — Hundreds of people lined the streets of this western Minnesota town Feb. 6 for a procession for Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Kahler, a local soldier who was killed during his third tour of duty in the Middle East.
Kahler, 29, was killed Jan. 26 while on duty near Waygul, Afghanistan, apparently by friendly fire from an Afghan guard allied with U.S. troops.
“This was his home, and we were here to welcome him back,” said Darwin Strong, who joined a crowd of students and residents outside Yellow Medicine East High School.
The tribute began that morning in Willmar, where American flags lined the sidewalk at the municipal airport as the casket carrying Kahler’s body was removed from a plane. After a private ceremony, the casket was loaded into a hearse, which was escorted by fire trucks and police cars for the 40-mile trip to Granite Falls.
Along Highway 23 in the small town of Raymond, sixth-grade students waved flags while people lined the streets.
In Granite Falls, the procession passed the Yellow Medicine County Courthouse and YME High School, where Kahler graduated in 1997. Students filed out the front doors and quietly took up positions lining the street. Some carried American flags or posters reading “In Honor of Matt.”
Ben Lecy, a close friend of Kahler’s and a teacher at the high school, said he and Kahler had discussed the soldier’s willingness to go into harm’s way when Kahler was last home. Lecy said he warned his friend that he could be shot.
“Yes, sir, but I’m willing to do that for my country,” Lecy said Kahler told him.
Kahler was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. His funeral was planned for 1:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at Granite Falls Lutheran Church.
Kahler is survived by his wife, Vicki, and their 4-year-old daughter, Allison.
Minnesota soldier laid to rest in Granite Falls
The Associated Press
GRANITE FALLS, Minn. — A fierce wind whipped the American flags held by an honor guard as Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Ryan Kahler was laid to rest Feb. 9. And many mourners braved whiteout conditions to get to his funeral.
During the service at Granite Falls Lutheran Church — filled to overflowing with family, friends, neighbors and military personnel — Kahler was remembered for being a servant and a shepherd to the troops he led.
Kahler, 29, of Granite Falls, was killed Jan. 26 while leading his platoon on a patrol near Waygul, Afghanistan, apparently by friendly fire from an Afghan guard allied with U.S. troops. He was on his third tour of duty in the Middle East.
The Rev. Steve Carmany said Kahler repeatedly demonstrated courage and loyalty, was “selfless almost to a fault” and was “tireless” in his care for others.
Kahler was someone you’d “want to have your back,” Carmany said.
Sgt. 1st Class William Stockard said Kahler led his troops by example. While recalling his sharp, sarcastic wit, he also said Kahler was a “terrific father” and treated his soldiers with the same kind of love.
The Rev. Bob Knutson said Kahler was committed to making the world better for his 4-year-old daughter, Allison.
Besides Allison, Kahler is survived by his wife, Vicki; parents Colleen Kahler of Montevideo and Ron and Shellie Kahler of Searles, one sister and two brothers.