Matthew L Tallman

GROVELAND, CA, USA U.S. Army SGT, TROOP D, 4TH SQUADRON, 6TH CAVALRY, FORT LEWIS, WA MULTAKA, IRAQ 08/22/2007

Matthew L. Tallman showed a mechanical aptitude early on. He could fix anything, said his mother, Virginia Tallman. He never read directions, he just picked it up and did it. He had a great mind; he remembered everything.

Tallman, 30, of Groveland, Calif., was killed Aug. 22 when his helicopter crashed in Multaka. He was a 1996 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Lewis. He served as an Army mechanic in Hawaii and during a yearlong stint in Afghanistan. But when he got to Iraq, his superiors wanted him in the air.

He liked what he did in the Army, his mother said. He loved to fly. He was fantastic. He was hysterical. He just fit in our family, Whiting said.

Matthew was just an all-around good person. He had a good soul, his mother said. He didn’t always do things the right way, but he was a good guy.

Soon after Tallman graduated from high school in 1996, his mother suggested that he join the Army. He wasn’t a particularly good student and didn’t really like to study, she said, so she thought the military might be the right fit.

But he said no. “He said, ‘Well, Mom, you want me to jump from the fireplace to the fire,’ ” his mother recalled.

Tallman worked and traveled for three years, and then moved back to his mother’s home in Groveland, east of Modesto. One day, he came home and told her that he had visited the Army recruiter and was going to enlist.

“Boot camp was a wonderful thing for him,” she said. “It gave him a lot of confidence and a lot of discipline. . . . I think he was like a lot of young men that just grow up a little slow.”

Tallman met his wife, Nicole, in 2000, when both were in training at Ft. Eustis, Va. She was in his barracks, teaching new arrivals how to prepare their lockers for inspection, and “he was the only one who wasn’t listening to me. He had his ears plugged up with earphones while listening to his music. That’s how he got me to notice him.”

Not that it was tough to notice him. At 6 feet 2, “he kind of stood out no matter where he was,” she said. They were married later that year and, in 2001, their daughter, Sandra, was born. “He was devoted to her from the second her big blue eyes looked at his,” his wife said. “She was definitely something special to her dad.”

Last year, the couple’s second child, Matthew Ryley, was born. Tallman “wanted to have a boy so bad,” his wife said. “He said, ‘I won’t believe it until he comes out and pees on the doctor.’ “

Virginia Tallman said she wasn’t nervous about her son’s safety when he was dispatched to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan in 2004 as part of a helicopter maintenance crew. But she was apprehensive when she learned this year that he would be sent to Iraq as part of the flight squadron.

“I was pretty upset,” she said. “When he left, I said, ‘Matt, I don’t want you to go.’ He just said, ‘I know, Mom. I know.’ “

Michael Seidler, a teacher at St. Lawrence Academy in Santa Clara, where Matthew attended high school, said he seemed to be looking for direction as a teenager.”He was figuring out life by the time he passed away,” Seidler said. “Life was coming together for him.”

Matthew’s portrait is also located on Poster 3