Friend remembers 27-year-old Missouri Green Beret recently killed in action

Posted at 10:02 PM, Nov 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-02 00:02:37-05

Family and friends are mourning the loss of 27-year-old Kirksville, Missouri native & Green Beret Matt Lewellen, who was killed while on a training mission in Jordan last week.

According to a statement released by his family, Lewellen died after his unit came under fire while entering a military base.

On Veterans Day, best friend John Blesz spoke with 41 Action News about the impact Lewellen had on many lives.

"Matt was a goofy, fun loving guy who loved making friends laugh," Blesz said. "He really wanted people around him to feel welcome and happy."

Blesz explained how Lewellen was a popular student while at Kirksville High School and later became a prom king and standout athlete.

"He was Mr. Kirksville Tiger," said Blesz. "He was always a good leader and he was always positive."

Even from a young age, Blesz said his friend knew what he wanted to be.

Matt Lewellen

"When he was 10 or 11, according to his mom and dad, he said he wanted to be a soldier," said Blesz.

After graduating from Kirksville High School in 2007, Blesz said Lewellen attended Truman State University and the University of Kansas.

However, Lewellen later joined the Army after telling family and friends he wanted to make a difference.

"He told me what he wanted to do was serve other people and do good in the world," explained Blesz.

After enlisting in the Army in February 2010, Blesz said Lewellen eventually became a Green Beret.

His service took him to places around the world, including Afghanistan, and earned him numerous medals.

"I found out recently that he was awarded a Bronze Star that many of his family members and friends didn't know about at all," said Blesz, talking about the medal awarded for courage during battle.

Despite the busy schedule of being a soldier, Blesz said Lewellen always made time for his friends.

In mid-October, Blesz said he met up with Lewellen before he was scheduled to depart for Jordan.

"He was the same old guy still giving me a hard time," said Blesz. "I remember he said, 'I love you, man,' and I said, 'I love you, too. Have a safe drive back.'"

The mission in Jordan was Lewellen's second deployment to the country.

He told friends and family he was assisting and training local soldiers who would eventually fight against ISIS.

Last weekend, Blesz said he received tragic news.

"A good friend of mine texted me and said, 'Did you hear about Matt?’" he explained.

Family and friends learned that Lewellen had been killed in action during a training mission on November 4.

Since receiving the tragic news, Blesz said he has thought about his best friend often.

"What I imagine is that he died in the same way he lived, which was selfless," he said. "To put his sacrifice in context is truly impossible."

Blesz explained that Lewellen's death should serve as a reminder to everyone about the continuing sacrifice soldiers make around the world.

"We have these American heroes that are dying," he said. "America lost an amazing soldier. An amazing and well-trained, competent professional."

Days after his friend's passing, Blesz said he will never forget the impact Lewellen had on his life.

"Matt was the single greatest man I've ever known or ever will know," Blesz explained. "I don't possess the ability to try and have everyone understand what his loss meant to the people that knew him."

Lewellen is survived by his mother and father, as well as his girlfriend, Renee.

Family members say Lewellen will be buried at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Jacksonville on November 19.



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