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Best Of Home Post: USS Boxer Sailor Matthew Bergman - A Father Remembers

Originally published on August 1, 2011

Photo caption:

Photo by Bergman family / Facebook

Matthew and Joe Bergman

Every man who serves in the military is someone's son, every woman is someone's daughter. Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Second Class Matthew Bergman, the 21-year-old Sailor who went missing from the USS Boxer last week, was the son of Joe Bergman.

As Home Post reported earlier this morning, the Navy announced it called off the search for Bergman on July 29, "when expectations of recovery no longer existed."

So that we could get to know him better, Joe Bergman has been kind and generous enough to send Home Post this essay about his son Matt:

Matt was a quirky child,extremely intelligent and extremely undisciplined. While in high school Matt jumped two grades in math while in the same year flunked art and band. I asked him, 'How could you flunk art?' He just shrugged his shoulders and said, 'I guess I forgot to turn stuff in.'

Matt had a huge heart for others. I never saw Matt say a hateful thing to anyone. He was always looking for a way to help those around him. Matt would do anything you asked if you needed help.

Matt had a photographic memory and was very good at languages and math. His memory was unbelievable. Matt won the Davidson county spelling bee in grade school by memorizing the entire study book. He said it only took him a few hours of looking at the pages of all the possible words they would be given. Before the match he told me he would win because he knew all the words. When he was asked to spell a word he would twitch his eye and act like he was looking inside his brain then recall the spelling.

The next year he again said he would win. He again won the school spelling bee then went onto the county. At the county contest it came down to him and another girl. They went back and forth several times. Then Matt missed a word. He was crushed. He came up to me and said it was not fair the word he was given was not in their study guide which contained hundreds and hundreds of words. I went and checked out of curiosity. The teacher said Matt was correct - they had moved up a level.

Matt decided he wanted to take French in high school. He said Spanish would be too common and easy. He did very well. During his sophomore year he went to France on a class field trip. His teacher said he was the only student that could speak French to locals. She was amazed.

At the end of Matt's junior year I told him he needed a plan as to what he wanted to do in his life. I told him I would be proud of whatever his choice was and would help him, he needed to only come up with a plan. After a few days Matt came to me and said he knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to travel through Europe, work odd jobs, learn languages and about other cultures. I told him that was a vacation, not a plan!

A few weeks later a friend told me if Matt loved languages the military had the best language school in the world, and it would also help Matt with his self-discipline issues. I went home and went to the Navy web site CTI (linguist) section. I asked Matt to take a look. Matt studied the site for about and hour, then came to me and said, 'I know what I want to do with my life. I want to be a linguist in the Navy and learn Arabic. Can you take me to the recruiter now?' We talked more about it and took Matt later that week.

Matt now was focused like a laser beam. He was so excited. His life had purpose and direction. I was so proud of his choice.

Matt was so proud to serve his country. After boot camp he came to me and said he had now made Grandpa's wall. At my grandfather's house the 'wall' had pictures of everyone who had been in the military. My uncles, brother, cousins, father and myself were on that wall. Now my son would be added to the wall.

The Navy had changed Matt and gave him the discipline he needed. Matt was at the top of his class. Matt sent me a fuzzy photo (of his report card) at the end of his class. He had a 4.0.

After DLI Matt told me he did not want to be stateside. He wanted to be on the front lines. He wanted to possibly one day assist the Special Forces on their missions as a linguist. Matt was so excited he was deploying overseas.

On July 27 at 4 p.m. my door bell rung. When I answered the door there were two Sailors who asked if I was Mr. Bergman, I said yes. They said, 'Mr. Bergman, we regret to inform you that 11 hours ago your son Matthew Bergman was reported lost at sea in the Gulf of Aden. He was on the USS Boxer.' (I did not know where my son deployed.)

They explained there was an extensive search for my son, however, they did not want to give me false hope. It was a long time to be out at sea. I felt the tears come to my eyes. I told them 'I have no regrets. Matt was chasing his dream. I am proud of him for that.' They asked me if I was OK, (and) I explained, 'My son Matt is either alive in the water with Jesus at this very moment or in heaven in His arms. I am OK. '

July 29 I was informed the search for Matt was being called off.

Matt loved God family, friends, and his country. Matt chased his dreams and lived life to the fullest. I have no regrets he served and gave his life for his country. His name Matthew means 'gift from God.' He was a gift to me, to others, and his country. Matthew Bergman is my son, I loved him in life and will miss him. I am proud and thankful for his service.

In closing I have this to say to Matt: You made Grandpa's wall, and you are my hero. I will see you again in Heaven. God always knew where you were and was with you. You were never lost at sea.

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