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Matthew T Grimm


Specialist Matthew T. Grimm, of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., died January 15, 2007, in Mosul, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations. Matthew was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.

When Grimm joined his cousin’s racing team in the summer of 2004, it was his first experience working with the high-performance stock cars that were the backbone of the American Speed Association. That fall, he joined another team, the U.S. Army, where he learned about tanks and artillery.

“He always wanted to be there to help people — that was always his goal,” Bryan Reffner, a cousin and driver. “And he wanted to do something but would push himself to see if he could do it better.”

He played football, wrestled and dabbled in weightlifting in school. Shane Benitz, an assistant wrestling coach, described him as a “powerhouse” wrestler with a muscular frame. “He was just a great kid, a good athlete, hardworking, everything you want in a member of a high school sports team,” Benitz said.

“He laughed and smiled a lot,” his mother Jean Grimm said. “He was friends with everyone, and he really enjoyed life.” According to his mother, Matthew entered the Army the fall after graduating from Lincoln High School. “I guess (the Army) just looked interesting to him,” said Jean Grimm, whose other son, Andrew, 23, is serving in Iraq as a specialist with the Wisconsin National Guard. “He didn’t really know what he wanted to do yet.”

Immediately after high school, Grimm began working for Reffner Motorsports, unloading cars from the previous race and getting them ready for the next. “Matt worked in the shop, and in racing, that’s 90 percent of the work,” Reffner said.

Much of Matthew’s work for the team involved maintaining the cars, his cousin said. “He’d be looking for anything that might be falling off and tightening up nuts and bolts,” Reffner said, adding that his cousin was more like a muscle-bound younger brother who lived life the way he worked out in the gym. “He just wanted to do things right and then do them better,” he said. “He was always looking to achieve a goal and then exceed it. He was always ready to take on a new challenge,” said Reffner.

He is survived by his parents, Eldon and Jean.


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