Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Matthew Snyder

Matthew Snyder

Individuals US

Washington Post -- As a teenager, Matthew Snyder seemed perhaps a bit short to be a Marine. But people who knew him said last night that the young Carroll County man made up for whatever he might have lacked in height.

"He had all that spunk and desire," said David F. Brown, who once coached Snyder in a church basketball league. "On the court, he made up for everything."

Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder of Finksburg died Friday from a noncombat-related vehicle accident in Iraq's Anbar province, the Pentagon announced yesterday. Snyder, 20, had been in Iraq since last month, the Marine Corps said.

"He was a wonderful son, and we're very proud of him," an aunt said last night, speaking for the family. "And he served our country well."

A neighbor recalled Snyder yesterday as "just a fine young man" who would help her with chores. Erma Dewitt said that she liked to pay children for their helpfulness but that he acted more out of a spirit of neighborliness than out of desire for monetary reward.

Snyder's character showed in the way he took care of things, she said. Once, when he came by to let the neighbor's dog out, he found a blacksnake in the garage.

"He wouldn't kill it," Dewitt said. He just took it outside."

Dewitt said Snyder did not strike her as someone with the physical stature of a Marine.

But "he had high objectives for life and wanted to serve his country," she said.

He "was going to take the Marines on and get through boot camp," which is celebrated for its physical demands. "And he did it," Dewitt said.

When she heard of his desire to join the armed forces, she said, she suggested to Snyder's mother that he pursue an enlistment that might be safer and less demanding.

But Dewitt said she was told, "No, he wants to be a Marine."

She said she believed that "part of it was that he wanted to prove something. That he could do that." Nor did he leave matters to chance. She said Snyder prepared himself through weight training and sports.

Snyder apparently enlisted shortly after graduating from Westminster Senior High School, where Brown, his former childhood basketball coach, is an assistant principal.

"He was small in stature," Brown recalled. "Always one of the shortest ones there." And he was quiet, too, Brown said.

But on the basketball court, it proved inconsequential. "He was just a ball of fire," Brown said. "He went at everything with full intensity."

When Snyder finished high school, Brown said, he "certainly didn't hesitate to step forward and put his life on the line. . . . He knew he was doing the right thing." He joined the Marines in October 2003, when he was 18 and working as a generator mechanic.

The family spokeswoman said Brown was the son of Julie and Albert Snyder. The Marines said his mother lives in Westminster and his father lives in Pennsylvania. He had two sisters, Sarah and Tracie, the aunt said.

The Pentagon said he was assigned to Combat Service Support Group-1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Twentynine Palms, Calif.

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