Our Hero. Sgt. Matthew Ryan Soper.

Tags: HeroStories

July 27, 1981 saw the birth of a beautiful baby boy. His name is Sgt. Matthew Ryan Soper.

He was the fifth child born into a family that would have a total of eight children.

In a family that has this many children it is important for each to find their own mark that set them apart from the others. He found this a difficult challenge in his early teenage years. Each challenge brought about a new life lesson. These lessons began the maturing process. Though this process seemed "ever so slow" to all of us, he had a plan with God to have it reach its pinnacle here today. The maturation from teenager to young man has left its mark with each of us these last few years. We watched him use his maturity for the things that really mattered the most. The relationships he molded with his family and friends are genuine and everlasting.

He was a beautiful human specimen to look at. He was tall, good-looking, dark hair and amazing athletic skill. Athletics came very easy to him. He was a "natural" athlete. No matter the sport, (football, baseball, basketball, skiing, golf) he found he was easily in the upper tier of the guys he played with.

He was larger than life. He wanted to be extreme. Extreme in all that he did. He did not get lost in a crowd. He was the life of the party. He was "all that and a bucket of chicken" to his ladies. He was "Big Daddy" to his nieces and nephews. He will forever be known as "Big Slick" to all of us.

The absolute joy and rib-aching laughter he brought into the room will never be forgotten. The effortless nicknames that he conjured up without even thinking before he said them will remain with us for all time. Shanese, Big Swiss, Big Country, Jaybees, Baby,  Shizel my Nizel are only but a few. The "corny" little "sayings of the week" were always quickly duplicated by your siblings and friends.  The "Hrrrumph" with the upturned fist as he duplicated Big Swiss in acknowledgment of something that he really liked, the "gooooooodsh daaaaaaaaarnit" in his rendition of Shanese's enthusiasm with just about anything he said to her as he was picking on his beloved mother.

The hole that is left in our hearts is large. It will not be easily closed. The gifts that you keep giving us never cease to amaze us. Taking care of your family, the stories of you taking care of your fellow soldiers, the memories that you gave us will last a lifetime with family and friends, the bringing home of your friends Derek, Alicia, Jody, and John, show us that you are still giving. There are, undoubtedly, more gifts from you as we are all blessed to have been apart of you life.

During his time between the first tour and the second tour it was easy for one to comment "you are lazy" – "get off the couch, stop watching Bart Hawley and get a job, go to school, prepare yourself for your future." Little did we know that you were masterfully, saving your strength to do for your Country, your Army, and your unit all of the wonderful things you did. The stories from your fellow soldiers are no less than absolutely "INCREDIBLE" – "EXTREMELY INCREDIBLE". We have not spoke to one soldier, one family member, one friend that feel that they could come close to executing your natural intuition, ability, and skill in Iraq. You kept the troops loose with their thoughts when the time called for it, you led by example without fear for your life, and you executed one clean mission after another in an effort to provide world wide peace to your unit, your Army, your family and friends, and your fellow Americans. You are to be saluted, embraced, and cherished in our hearts FOREVER……

Thank you Sgt. Matthew Ryan Soper for letting us be a part of your life.

Sgt. Matthew Ryan Soper lost his life in Iraq on June 6th, 2007.  May he always be remembered.

Written and read by Jay Ciokajlo (brother-in-law of Sgt. Matthew Soper) at Sgt. Soper's funeral.

Alex Soper

brother of Sgt Matthew So