Military Identifies American Soldier Killed In Afghanistan As Irvine Man

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — The U.S. military has identified the soldier who was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday.

The head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, issued a statement Wednesday identifying the soldier as Army Staff Sgt. Matthew V. Thompson.

The Defense Department said Thompson was 28 and from Irvine.

Votel extended condolences to the soldier’s family and friends.

Thompson was killed by an improvised explosive device in the southern province of Helmand.

On Wednesday evening, KCAL9’s Stacey Butler spoke to Thompson’s widow.

“I was awakened in the morning to two servicemen at my door,” said Rachel Thompson, 27, “They were there to let me know in person that Matt had passed.”

It was the moment she had been dreading when Matt joined the Army five years ago.

“I’m so heartbroken,” she said, “I’m so crushed. But I’ve felt the support and the love. I know that God is good.”

She told Butler she knows her husband is in a better place.

“Matt, he’s in Heaven,” said Rachel, “I don’t know the reason. I don’t know why. I don’t understand.”

Rachel and Matt fell in love while studying religion at Concordia University, a small Christian university in Irvine.

The Dean of Theology said he would never forget the bubbly kid from Wisconsin who felt called to serve.

“He said I want to go where God wants me to be,” said dean Steve Mueller, “I just want to serve people. I’m not surprised he ended up his last assignment serving as a medic.”

Rachel said her crushing loss hasn’t tested her faith in God, it’s strengthened it.

“He allows them to happen so that others can know him. I hope, I pray that Matt’s sacrifice and his testimony that he left to love will make a difference for one person. One,” Rachel said.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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