Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew S. Sluss-Tiller
Died February 11, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
35, of Catlettsburg, Ky.; assigned to the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Feb. 3 in Timagara, Pakistan, from wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. Also killed were Army Sgt. 1st Class David J. Hartman and Army Staff Sgt. Mark A. Stets Jr.
(Taken from www.dailyindependent.com of Feb. 4, 2010) LOUISA — A soldier from Lawrence County was among the casualties in a roadside bomb in Pakistan on Wednesday.
Matthew Sluss-Tiller, a 1993 graduate of Lawrence County High School, was one of three American troops who died in the blast, which occurred outside a girls’ school near in northwestern Pakistan. Three students also died in the blast.
Various news organizations reported that Sluss-Tiller and his fellow soldiers were part of a small unit that trains Pakistani Frontier Troops responsible for security near the country’s border with Afghanistan. Their deaths were the first known U.S. military fatalities in Pakistan’s lawless tribal regions near the Afghan border.
Journalists traveling with the American convoy said the blast hit the vehicle in which the soldiers were riding, an indication that the soldiers were targeted.
Brenda Thornbury, an art teacher at LCHS, said Sluss-Tiller was one of her students in high school, and that the two remained friends even after he graduated.
She said Sluss-Tiller would always stop by her classroom to visit whenever he came to the school to see his mother, Jane Blankenship, a special-needs teacher.
On Thursday, Thornbury recalled Sluss-Tiller as a “wonderful, well-mannered and respectful” young man who expressed a desire to be in the military all throughout high school.
“He was always eager to do whatever he needed to do to serve his country,” she said.
Sluss-Tiller also was deeply religious and had a strong faith in God, she said.
Thornbury said she learned of Sluss-Tiller’s death Wednesday night, and that the news hit her hard.
“It just doesn’t seem real,” she said.
She also said Sluss-Tiller’s death was a major topic of conversation among the adults at the high school on Thursday.
Thornbury said she hadn’t spoken to Sluss-Tiller since his mother retired several years ago and moved to North Carolina to be closer to her son, his wife, Melissa, and the couple’s 3-year-old daughter, Hannah.
“She wanted to be able to baby-sit and help take care of her grandchild,” she said.
Sluss-Tiller and his wife were high school sweethearts, Thornbury said, although she said she didn’t know Melissa Sluss-Tiller very well.
Matthew Sluss-Tiller was based out of Fort Bragg. His wife works as a counselor at the base.