Matthew A Commons

BOULDER CITY, NV, USA U.S. Army CPL, CO A 1ST BN 75TH RANGER REGT HUNTER ARMY AIR FIELD, GA 31409 GARDEZ, AFGHANISTAN 03/04/2002

The young soldier came home with a tattoo, as young soldiers often do, and his mother cringed at the thought of it, as mothers often do. But the tattoo that Patricia Marek’s son chose to display on his back was a cross, bigger than her hand, with “Jesus” flowing over it in Hebrew script. It made her proud, and she told him so.

In my prayers:”I would say, ‘Okay, he’s wearing your cross. Please don’t let him bear your cross.'”

On March 4 on a mountain in eastern Afghanistan, her 21-year-old son, CPL Matthew Allen Commons, was killed in combat.

Matt Commons wanted to be a soldier like his father — and then after that, maybe a history teacher like his father. Commons turned 21 last month in Afghanistan.

Commons and his unit were trying to save a Navy SEAL.

“He had volunteered for a rescue operation,” Greg Commons said. “That was the epitome of Matt’s life; his whole life was giving.”

Commons’s parents gave their sons biblical names and raised them with a midwestern variety of no-nonsense, no-free-ride, tough love.

Neither parent was thrilled when Matt joined the military but they thought that the military might give him direction. “When September 11 hit, I was frantic, frantic!” Patricia Marek said. “That’s all I was doing, was saying, ‘Please God, take care of him. Don’t send him there. I know he’s going to go over there, and I’ll never see my baby again.’ “

CPL Commons was a cut-up who did well in school. He was secretary of the senior class and one of the “rah rah boys,” a boisterous group that dressed in drag to cheer at high school games. He played soccer and went to summer camps, including one at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, where he got a taste of military life and liked it.

Matt Commons loved his half-brothers, Patrick, 9, and Thomas, 7. He shared things with them and was a willing teacher for them. Commons grew up with a strong military presence in his background. It was a natural fit for him to enlist.

Commons’s parents said their son died for a just cause. “We’ve all lost not just a son or a brother; we lost a best friend,” said Patricia Marek.

She said that she imagined Matt entering heaven at the crack of the bullet that struck him but that she still feels his presence. “There’s true meaning in what he did there, because he died for all of us,” she said. “He’s with God.”

Matthew’s portrait is also located on Poster 3