Eisenhower Army Medical Center / Fort Gordon / Augusta, Georgia / January 29, 2011 / 8.03 am
A reader writes:
Well I just sat here and had myself a quiet little weep for Major Matthew P. Burke while looking at his last view through his brother's eyes. My eyes are pouring for him.
That's the thing about that contest, Andrew. It's not just the pictures and the fun of guessing - it's the people. It's the comments. All those people from all over the world, all kinds of people, staring at the same picture and telling their own stories by what they write. It's charming, and often informative, and sometimes funny, and in this case deeply touching.
Peace to your reader. I'm so terribly sorry for his loss.
The winner of today's contest is a staff sargeant stationed at nearby Fort Stewart:
It's an awkward "win" to say the least. Every story I hear of the loss of a fellow soldier hurts more than the one before. The photo is a hard reminder of just how dangerous it is to be an American soldier, even here in the US. In my tens years in the Army, while it probably isn't the norm, I've personally lost more friends in training accidents than in Iraq or Afghanistan. We train hard; we train realistically; we take chances, and sometimes things don't end well.
Give my condolences, gratitude, and respect to the Burke family.
Below is a passage from Matt's eulogy, delivered on Saturday by his brother, Paul:
Let me close by sharing a final memory of Matt. I will never forget visiting Matt and Bonnie over the last Labor Day Weekend. Matt was so proud to show off the “awesome” Anna Ryan at every opportunity, and he also delighted in going out on the lake on his powerboat. Matt was literally the captain of his ship, and he projected the happiness and strength of a man at the peak of his powers.
Towards the end of a long day during which Matt had patientlyand ultimately successfullytaught me to cross the boat’s wake on a wakeboard, there was a peaceful moment when Matt jumped into the water to be with Bonnie. As the sun started to set, Matt floated next to her and looked upon Bonnie, his true love, with joy and wonder.
As I remember that moment now, I am profoundly grateful that my brother Matthew lived so well.