UPDATE: There will be a graveside military tribute for Sgt. Stiltz on Saturday at 1pm at the Greenwood Memorial Terrace in Spokane. A memorial service will follow at Shiloh Hills Fellowship at 207 E. Lincoln Rd.
SPOKANE, Wash. - The body of Sgt. Matthew Stiltz of Spokane arrived at a private hangar of the Spokane International Airport at 9:40 Monday morning. Air Force and Army National Guard Honor Guards were there to honor his service and sacrifice, before his parents, wife, sister, brother and other friends and family were brought inside.
Linking arms, they watched as a small plane arrived carrying his body. The room was silent, and all you could hear was raindrops and sobbing as the casket was loaded into a waiting hearse.
Stiltz died Nov. 12, in Zerok, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with indirect fire.
Serving his third tour of duty, the 26-year-old was just deployed to the country in June.
Matthew's was the middle of three children, and his brother and sister tell KHQ he was a protective brother, but was first and foremost a soldier.
He enlisted in the Army as soon as he turned 18, as a senior at Spokane's Shadle Park High School. Two weeks after his high school graduation in 2005, he was in boot camp.
After serving his first deployment in Iraq, he met his wife, Brooke, in the Kansas area where his unit was stationed. They married in 2009, and just a few weeks later, he was redeployed to Iraq.
Matthew's siblings tell KHQ being in the military runs in the family, with long lines of service in the Navy and Air Force. Even his older brother, Jeff, served for a number of years in the USAF.
The last time they saw Matthew was over Christmas last year.
Now, his sister, Kristin, says she's been making friends online with a number of people who served with her brother, who call him a true hero, brave, honorable, and a good man.