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story.lead_photo.caption Matthew Reed, of St. Louis, holds a shadow box he made memorializing his service in Iraq with the U.S. Army. He now serves as a power generator mechanic with the Missouri National Guard. Photo by Jeremy Amick

Editor's note: This is part of a series of articles highlighting members of the 1035th Maintenance Company. A 1035th reunion will be 2-7 p.m. April 18 at the American Legion Post 5 in Jefferson City.

Military service has become a perpetual legacy in the family of Matthew Reed. Although his own military story includes service on active duty with the U.S. Army followed by a stint in the U.S. Army Reserve, he maintains it is his most recent service with the Missouri National Guard that has been most rewarding because it affords opportunities to interact with his local community.

When graduating from Oakville High School in St. Louis in 2002, Reed spent the next three years working an assortment of jobs and trying to find his direction in life. However, in 2004, inspired in part by the military service of his father, he made the decision to enlist in the U.S. Army.

"It was my time to carry on the family heritage," he explained.

"I figured I would do three years and then get out," Reed chuckled, "but here I am 15 years later."

Following completion of his basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, the young soldier was sent to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland for several weeks of advanced training as a power generator mechanic. While there, he learned to read and follow wiring diagrams in addition to diagnosing mechanical problems encountered with the equipment.

Immediately upon graduation from the training in early 2005, he received orders for his first duty assignment — an overseas tour placing him at Kwang Ju Air Base in South Korea, where he became a member of the 21st Air Defense Artillery.

"I was definitely nervous because I was just a young kid who had never been out of the country," he said. "But I really enjoyed it because I was in a Patriot Missile battery and in charge of the generators that powered the launchers and radar systems."

Several months into his assignment, he received transfer to Kunsan Air Base, finishing the remainder of his overseas tour running a squad of generator mechanics. Departing Korea in the early weeks of 2006, Reed returned to Fort Knox but months later chose to wave his stabilization period (period of time protecting soldiers from involuntary deployment) to leave for Iraq with the 19th Engineer Battalion.

"While I was deployed to Iraq, the generator maintenance was done by contractors so I became a mechanic for engineering equipment such as bulldozers," he said.

"Then," he continued, "I began participating in route clearances — detonating IEDs and bombs and helping repair damaged roads."

His second overseas mission ended in November 2007, with his return to Fort Knox. At that time, Reed realized he no longer wished to remain on active duty but did not want to leave the military structure entirely. After speaking with a recruiter on base, he was encouraged to join an Army Reserve unit in his hometown.

"I was in the Army Reserve for about three and a half years as a generator mechanic but still worked on military vehicles," he said. "I had an acquaintance who was in the 1035th Maintenance Company and told me they were preparing to deploy to Kuwait and I thought I would like to go with them."

Transferring to the Missouri National Guard in November 2011, Reed became a power generator mechanic with the 1035th Maintenance Company, which at the time was located at Jefferson Barracks. Less than two weeks prior to their scheduled deployment, they received notice it had been canceled.

The father of four sons, Reed has been employed in a handful of full-time jobs during the last few years; however, he has since become a member of the carpenters union and works primarily in residential construction.

In 2014, he accompanied the 1035th Maintenance Company when they moved from Jefferson Barracks to a newer maintenance facility located in Bridgeton (Lambert). In reflection, he recognizes the Missouri National Guard has provided a bevy of new experiences that have immersed him in the organization's dual mission to support the state and nation.

"One interesting part about serving in the Guard is that I've had opportunities to perform State Emergency Duty," he said. "We provided support to the community when flooding occurred in Clarksville and Fenton in addition to security during the Ferguson riots."

These events, he further noted, keep him and fellow Guardsmen rooted in their communities while demonstrating the variety of support functions they have been trained to provide.

"One of the moments I recall came during the Ferguson riots," he said. "It gave us the opportunity to interact with the community and we would show the kids some of our military equipment, letting them climb up in the Humvees and look around."

He added, "We grew close to some of the residents and they would even bring us food at times."

Additionally, his military service — specifically his deployment to a combat zone in Iraq — has not only offered the opportunity to carry on his family's military legacy, but resulted in a shared experience that has helped him grow closer to his father.

"My father served in the Vietnam War with the U.S. Army and never spoke much about his service," he said. "When I got back from Iraq, he really opened up to me and it has really brought us closer my father is my best friend."

He added, "When I was promoted to sergeant, my father pinned the rank on me during the ceremony and that became a huge moment in my career."

Jeremy P. Amick writes on behalf of the Silver Star Families of America.

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