By Emily Baker
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – Cpl. Matthew P. Wallace was a tough cavalry scout who liked to show off his half-dozen tattoos.
But, when it came to children, Wallace was a big softy, his family said Thursday. That's why the 22-year-old joined the Army to go to Iraq.
His dad, Keith, remembered a time when the pair sat on the curb outside a bookstore and watched a family with young children walk by.
"He turned to me and said, It's not that I don't like you, Dad, but I'm doing it for them and not for you,'" Keith Wallace said.
Matthew Wallace, who served with the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, was home for mid-tour rest and recuperation leave in April when he explained to his dad that he was serving so children in Iraq could live in a better country.
He was mortally wounded for that cause July 16 in Baghdad when a roadside bomb exploded near his Bradley fighting vehicle. He died five days later at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
His family was in Central Texas Thursday for a 4th Infantry memorial service, which honored Wallace, four soldiers who died in Iraq and another soldier killed in a car accident while home on mid-tour leave.
As the Wallaces remembered their son and brother before the service, they couldn't help but smile at one consequence of his death – his three sisters now have to have lots of children.
"Matt made it clear to us that the reason he joined the Army, and he knew he was going into this conflict, was so his sisters' children wouldn't have to," Keith Wallace said.
So, Abigail, Jessica and Micah Wallace each agreed that the more children they have, the more they honor their brother's sacrifice. He never had children of his own.
He'd wanted to be a soldier since he was little. He used to make toy guns out of hangers, said his squadron commander, Lt. Col. James Love. He also asked his mother, Mary, for a camouflage bedspread.
Also honored Thursday were Spc. Collin T. Mason, 20, who died after a roadside bomb explosion in Baghdad; Spc. Damien Montoya, 21, who died from a non-combat-related cause in Baghdad; Sgt. Casey W. Jones, who died in a car accident; Staff Sgt. Jason M. Evey, 29, who died after a roadside bomb exploded near his Bradley fighting vehicle in Baghdad; and Staff Sgt. Kenneth I. Pugh, 39, who died from small-arms fire in Baghdad.
Mason, who served with the 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, was remembered for his sense of humor. He once "poured lighter fluid over snowballs to make flaming bombs," said Sgt. 1st Class Neil Capps.
Montoya decided when he was 10 years old that he wanted to be a soldier like his grandfather, a Korean War veteran. He grew up to be among the most respected soldiers in his unit, said Staff Sgt. Frank Ball. Montoya served with the 3rd Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team.
Jones was proud of his country heritage and was a George Strait fan, Love said. He met his wife, Krystle, at a car show and had a 1-year-old son. Jones hoped to be in law enforcement when he left the Army. He served with the 204th Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
Evey, who served in the 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, had an eye for photography and art, Love said. The Oregon native also enjoyed hiking, fishing and white-water rafting and was a Boy Scout.
Pugh often cheered people up with fun conversations about his truck or boat, said Capt. Brad McBrayer. He also enjoyed fishing and played football and ran track in high school. He served with the 3rd Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment.
Contact Emily Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org