PFC Matthew K. Anderson

Unit: 101st Airborne, 101st Aviation
Age: 21
Home Town: Lucas, IA
Died On: 09/25/1993

When Somali gunmen brought down PFC Matthew K. Anderson's UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during a night reconnaissance mission over Mogadishu, they robbed the world of a "brilliant" wit with a great future as a writer, according to his friends.

"The things we'll miss the most are his witty comments," says PFC Thomas Romano. "He always had a witty comment for everything."

Romano and Matthew Anderson both joined the Army May 21, 1992, and since then their careers were inter-twined until Sept. 25, when a rocket-propelled grenade hit the latter's helicopter as it flew over the Somali capital.

The pair completed basic and advanced individual training together at Fort Benning, Ga., and from there they both joined B Company, 9th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, Fort Campbell, Ky., as Black Hawk door gunners.

They also became roommates, which gives Romano a lot of experience of his buddy's laid-back approach to life. "His answer to any problem was `Don't worry about it, man,"' says Romano.

When he wasn't working or playing practical jokes on his colleagues, Matthew Anderson expressed his wit through his writing, says Spec. James Houchin, another of B Company's door gunners. "He had a really weird sense of humor," Houchin says. "He'd write . . . off-the-wall stories and read them to us for something to do, especially over there [in Somalia]." He specialized in writing poetry and fiction, with a particular emphasis on science fiction, his colleagues say.

"He wanted to be a writer," Houchin says. "He came in the Army for the experience of doing it, for something to write about." There's no doubt in his friends' minds that Matthew Anderson would have achieved his literary ambitions had he lived.

Romano's life was to have one final, fatal link with that of his friend Sept. 25. "I was supposed to take his flight that night," Romano remembers, "He was tired, and I told him, `No, I'm up, why don't you let me fly it for you?"' But his friend's commitment to the mission overcame his fatigue. "He wouldn't let me take it. It would have been me instead of him."