By WILL SKOWRONSKI, Capital News Service
WASHINGTON (March 11, 2008) - Army Spc. Micheal Matlock Jr. was known for his good humor and never seemed to be in a bad mood, said friend Brittney Thornton.
Matlock, 21, known as Glen Burnie High School's class clown, joined the Army in 2006 to build a framework for his life, Thornton said. He was sent to Iraq as an infantryman with the 101st Airborne Division.
Matlock, assigned to A Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, was the latest Maryland soldier to die in Iraq on Wednesday, Feb. 20, after his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Baghdad late on Feb. 19, according to military reports. Fellow soldiers Sgt. Conrad Alvarez, 22, of Big Spring, Texas, and Cpl. Albert Bitton, 20, of Chicago were also killed in the blast.
Thornton graduated from high school with Matlock in 2005 and said they shared a large group of friends. A group created in his memory on the social networking Web site Facebook has 52 members.
If he saw the group, he'd crack a joke, his friends writing there said, and he's now entertaining the other angels in heaven.
"He definitely was an attention getter," Thornton said. "It was kind of hard not to notice him."
Matlock, Thornton said, pulled off a particularly funny stunt when he jumped into a scissors kick across the stage during a performance after a teacher told him not to at practice.
"That was one of the funniest moments ever," Thornton said.
Thornton also remembers when, during her 16th birthday party, Matlock started giving another friend a lap dance as a joke.
"It was just off-the-wall funny. He could really dance," Thornton said. "He really livened up the party and that was definitely special."
While some of his friends went to college, Thornton said, Matlock decided his best move was to join the Army.
He enlisted in August 2006 and was sent to Fort Campbell, Ky., that December, according to a news release.
"I think Mike joined the Army to gain some structure in his life," Thornton said. "I think that was his outlet as far as trying to make something of himself."
Thornton last talked to Matlock on MySpace, another social networking Web site, about a month and a half ago, she said. Then he told her he wished the two and their other friends could hang out together during spring break. Thornton, a junior at Frostburg State University, said she and Matlock shared a love for basketball and would often go to games together.
Matlock is survived by his wife, Breon, and son, Byron, of Severna Park; father, Micheal Matlock Sr. of Vansboro, N.C.; and mother, Sheena Douglas of Glen Burnie, according to a news release. Attempts to reach the family were not successful.
His military awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Weapons Qualification, M4, expert.
The funeral was planned for noon Thursday, Feb. 28, at the First Christian Community Church in Annapolis.