Soldier's Story, Part III - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Soldier's Story, Part III

Matthew Sharp Matthew Sharp

May 5, 2004

Ft. Benning, GA-- It takes time to process big events in your life and when it comes to war, it may take a lifetime. A young Army Soldier, barely out of high school, is already a war hero. He hasn't even been back in the United States for a whole year, but he has had time to think.

"My name is Matthew Sharp, I'm 21-years-old, and I'm with Alpha Company 2/69th Armor. I'm from Atlanta, Georgia."

"I never thought, three years ago, graduating from high school that I was going to be a war veteran and have three years of Army under my belt."

"I was the loader on the tank, basically my job was loading the main gun, but we weren't always firing the main gun rounds. I remember just about every waking moment there. There were a few scary moments, but the adreneline kicks in, and all the training we do, it's really just second nature. You don't have time to be scared, it's just your mission."

"I try not to think about it, a lot of it has been really good experience. You find out how precious life is. Things I saw over there should be anything any person should see, but we also saw some really great things. After the war, people loved us and they were really glad we were there and seeing peoples faces after they were free for the first time, nothing like it."

"When we first got there, they didn't have any power or water, the sector that we had. Helping them establish getting power back. None of the people were working. Before we left, kids were going to kindergarten, they were going to schools. Part of our mission was to help re-establish schools, power and water to the neighborhoods."

"Most of the people were nice and then you would go into some towns and they wouldn't smile at you or wave at you, those are the people we stayed away from or watched them closely."

"After the war was over for us, it was very calm for us, very calm. It really killed us standing in formation, we were standing there for so long and seeing all your loved ones. You just wanted to run up and hug them."

"It was really overwhelming. You didn't know wether you wanted to smile or cry or what you wanted to do. It was a great moment, it really was.

"I don't see were anybody would want to go over there, but I wouldn't really want to go back. I would go back, only if they asked me to though, in a heartbeat."

Specialist Matthew Sharp is due to get out of the Army soon and plans to go to college.

Sharp made a close friend at Ft. Benning moments before they were both sent to Iraq. They were separated during combat. On Friday, as we continue our Soldier's Story series, you'll hear the story of his friend Specialist Dallas Chambless.

posted at 3:05PM by dave.miller@walb.com