Capt. Matthew Nielson
The Department of Defense regrets to announce the death of Capt. Matthew Gunnar Nielson, 27, a Jefferson, Iowa native serving on active duty in the U.S. Army, who died June 29, in Badrah, Iraq. Nielson was killed during an indirect fire attack by insurgents on Contingency Operating Logistics base Shocker while deployed to Iraq for Operation New Dawn (formerly known as Operation Iraqi Freedom). Also killed in the attack were Capt. David E. Van Camp, 29, of Wheeling, W.Va., and Spc. Robert G. Tenney, Jr., 29, of Warner Robins, Ga. All three Soldiers were assigned to 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, U.S. Army, Fort Hood, Texas. The attack is under investigation.
Nielson was born February 1, 1984 in Omaha, Neb. and raised in Lincoln, Neb., Ogden, Iowa, and Jefferson, Iowa, where he was homeschooled. Nielson worked for the Fareway Store in Jefferson during and after high school, eventually being promoted to produce manager. He attended the University of Northern Iowa, where he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 2008 and received a commission into the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant (Armor branch) through the UNI Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) in May 2008. While at UNI, he received the Gen. George C. Marshall Leadership Award and the American Legion Gold Scholastic Award. Nielson was also a member of the Phi Eta Sigma Academic Honor Society, UNI Ultimate Frisbee Team and the UNI Alumni Association.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with bronze service star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Air Assault Badge, and Combat Action Badge.
Nielson is survived by his mother and father, Christine and Roger Nielson of Jefferson; brothers Nathanael, Jakob, and Luke; and sisters Heather, Kirsten, Teddi, and Emily.
The family of Capt. Matthew Nielson issued the following statement:
“Since Matt was a small boy he loved anything military, so he died doing what he loved best. Serving others was of the utmost importance to him and how he wanted to spend his life. He always gave his all, whatever he was doing. Matthew was a beloved son, brother, friend and Soldier. He’s already home, and we know we’ll be together again someday. Apart, but forever in our hearts. Psalms 11.”
Funeral arrangements are pending and details will be provided as they become available. The Nielson family asks that their privacy be respected at this time.