Army Pfc. Matthew H. Walker, who was fatally wounded in combat in Afghanistan this week, was a “great kid who worked his tail off,” his high school football coach said.
Walker, 20, an infantryman in the 101st Airborne Division, died Thursday of wounds he suffered when his unit was hit by enemy fire, according to the Department of Defense. The action took place in Paktika Province, which is in southeast Afghanistan along the border with Pakistan.
Walker lived in the Hillsboro, Missouri-area and graduated in 2012 from Grandview High School, which has about 330 students. As a senior, Walker was a captain on the football team, starting as an offensive lineman and linebacker, said head coach Mike Genge.
Genge said Walker visited the school this spring.
“He was proud to be a serviceman,” Genge said. “He was enjoying it. He was finding success, and it seemed he found his path. He was hoping it would get him to college.”
Genge said Walker worked hard on the team. “He wasn’t one of those fiery guys. He just worked hard and did what we asked him to,” he said.
He said the faculty planned to meet Monday to honor a request by Walker’s family that a memorial be held on campus.
The 101st Airborne Division is based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Walker was in its 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade combat team.