U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Matthew Sluss-Tiller Laid to Rest

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UPDATE from 6pm Wednesday 2/17
BURNAUGH, Ky. (WSAZ) -- It's not very often a three-star general comes in to lead the honor guard at a local soldiers funeral.

But that general says U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Matthew Sluss-Tiller was a key operative in the war on terror.

At the Lawrence County, Ky., native's funeral service on Wednesday, his hometown pastor and fellow Fort Bragg soldiers spoke of a loving family man and decorated American hero.

They said Matthew was a soldier who always strived to do things right. At his burial -- high on a hill at his Burnaugh, Ky., homeplace --
his commanding general spoke of an outstanding career army man who died in a Pakistani bomb blast. He said Matthew gave his life in America's assault on terrorism.

"He was part of America's Army Special Operations Forces and such -- one of the finest soldiers in the world," Lt. Gen. John Muholland said. "That's no exaggeration, that he was embarked on a very important if not critical mission that is directly tied to the security of this country."

Matthew was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, among many other commendations. He's survived by his wife Melissa; 3-year-old daughter Hannah; his mother Jane Blankenship; and his father Ed Tiller.

UPDATE from 6pm Monday 2/15 5pm
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Late Sgt.’s father Ed Tiller says, "From the time I bought him his first GI Joe, he wanted to be an army man -- then when he grew up a bit, he still wanted to be a soldier.:

Sgt. Matthew Sluss-Tiller's father Ed, as well as the rest of his family, knew early on what the 18-year special operations veteran's fellow soldiers from Ft. Bragg learned by experience.

Sgt. Jamie Mullinix tells us that Matthew was an outstanding soldier, and a loving family man who is survived by his wife Melissa and 3-year-old daughter Hannah.

Flanking the Ft. Bragg honor guard, local members of the 180,000 strong Patriot Guard riders and motorcyclists. Their mission is to pay honor and respect to the fallen.

Sgt. Tiller died representing his country on a special civil affairs mission -- one of the first U.S. military deaths in volatile hot button Pakistan.

Family members tell us he was on a PR mission for the Pakistani people to help the locals rebuild schools and homes that the Taliban destroyed. They also say Matthew dearly loved his country and gave his life for every individual in the United States.

WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The body of a local soldier killed in the line of duty has returned home.

Sgt. Matthew Sluss-Tiller, 35, of Burnaugh, Ky., was one of three U.S. soldiers killed in a bomb blast in Pakistan earlier this month.

Sluss-Tiller's body was flown into Tri-State Airport aboard a chartered jet Monday morning.

About a dozen family members were present for the arrival.

A ten-member honor guard from Fort Bragg, where Sgt. Sluss-Tiller was stationed, transferred the casket from the plane to a waiting hearse.

Also present, was an honor guard from the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group.

His funeral is set for Wednesday morning at the Burnuagh Baptist Church. Visitation is set for Tuesday.

Ed Tiller said his son, a career soldier; wanted to be in the Army from the first GI Joe he got as a child.

LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ky (WSAZ) --Weather issues are delaying funeral services for a Lawrence County, Ky soldier killed in the line of duty.

Matthew Sluss-Tiller, 35, was one of three U.S. soldiers killed in a bomb blast in Pakistan last week.

His funeral had been scheduled for this Saturday, but has now been pushed back to Wednesday, February 17th at the Burnaugh Baptist Church. The service will begin at 11 a.m.

His visitation will be the night before at the same church starting at 4 p.m.

UPDATE 2/8/10

LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ky (WSAZ) -- Funeral arrangements have been set for a Lawrence County, Ky soldier killed in Pakistan last week.

Matthew Sluss-Tiller, 35, was one of three U.S. soldiers killed in a bomb blast Wednesday.

Jane Blankenship tells WSAZ.com that the visitation for her son will begin at 4 p.m. Friday at the Burnaugh Baptist Church. The funeral is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at the same church.

Blankenship is still waiting to hear from the military on when her son's body will be returned to the area.

UPDATE 2/5/10

WASHINGTON, DC (WSAZ) -- The Department of Defense has officially announced the death of Sgt. Matthew Sluss-Tiller and two other soldiers killed in a bomb blast in Pakistan earlier this week.

Sluss-Tiller was from Burnaugh, Ky and graduated from Lawrence County High School.

The other two soldiers killed are identified as Sgt. David Hartman, 27, of Okinawa, Japan and Staff Sgt. Mark A. Stets, 39, of El Cajon, Calif.

Sluss-Tiller and Hartman were assigned to the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.

Stets was assigned to the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne), 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.

UPDATE 6pm 1/4/10
LOUISA, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A fatal blow to America's controversial military presence in Pakistan hit home in our region Wednesday.

A Taliban bomb blast took the lives of three United States soldiers -- including Matthew Sluss-Tiller, from Louisa.

A roadside bomb in a remote area of Pakistan near the Afghan border killed the career soldier. Sergeant Sluss-Tiller was part of a special army force, he helped train the Pakistan Paramilitary Frontier Corps in counter insurgency techniques and guarded a volatile border.

Sgt. Sluss-Tiller's mother, Jane Blankenship, tells WSAZ.com her son left the family farm in Burnaugh at 19-years-old to join the Army. She also said he died on a civil affairs mission, heading to represent the United States at the dedication of a Pakistani girl's school.

Brenda Thornbury was Sgt. Sluss-Tiller's favorite teacher at Lawrence County High School, where the flag flew at half staff Thursday. Thornbury says the 1993 graduate knew his career path early on.

"Matthew was a wonderful person," she said. "In high school he knew he would serve his country. He loved the Lord -- he loved his family."

The 35-year-old is survived by his wife, Melissa, and 3-year-old daughter, Hannah. his wife works as a mental health counselor at Ft. Bragg. They lived in North Carolina.

Sgt. Sluss-Tiller's mother also said he grew a beard for his latest mission. Thurnbury told WSAZ.com in a recent phone conversation, he strangely hinted of a dangerous top-secret mission that could be his last.

Besides the three United States soldiers, the bomb blast killed three local school girls and injured 70 other Pakistanis.

Lawrence County, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A soldier from Lawrence County, Kentucky has been killed in a bomb blast in Pakistan.

Jane Blankenship tells WSAZ.com that her son Matthew Sluss-Tiller, 35, was one of three U.S. soldiers killed in that blast Wednesday.

NBC News reports the soldiers were part of a small unit that trains Pakistani Frontier Troops responsible for security near the Afghan border.

A local journalist traveling with the convoy says the bomb hit the vehicle the Americans were riding in, suggesting the soldiers were targeted.

Three children and a Pakistan Paramilitary soldier were also killed and 45 people were wounded in the blast that happened outside a girl’s school.

Matthew grew up in Burnaugh,Ky. and was a 1993 graduate of Lawrence County High School.

Blankenship says her son was married and has a three-year-old daughter. He was based out of Fort Bragg, NC. His wife was a counselor at the base.

No word on funeral arrangements.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information.

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