A veteran Green Beret known as “one of the best of the best” in the Washington National Guard was killed in Afghanistan this week, the Defense Department announced Wednesday.
Staff Sgt. Matthew McClintock, 30, was serving on his third combat tour when he was killed in an attack in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, a volatile area that reportedly has seen a recent Taliban resurgence.
McClintock, a Des Moines resident with a wife and infant son, was serving in A Company of the Washington National Guard’s 19th Special Forces Group.
“He was a Green Beret who sacrificed time away from his loved ones to train for and carry out these dangerous missions,” Washington National Guard Commander Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty said. “This is a tough loss for our organization, and a harsh reminder that ensuring freedom is not free.”
Gov. Jay Inslee also issued a statement mourning McClintock’s death.
“The death of any service member is tragic,” Inslee said. “The death of one of our own is especially difficult to grasp. My thoughts and prayers are with Staff Sergeant McClintock’s friends and family, including his wife and infant son. He is a true American hero who stood up to protect his state and nation.”
McClintock, a New Mexico native, joined the Army in 2006 and moved to Joint Base Lewis-McChord to serve in its elite 1st Special Forces Group. It’s a Green Beret headquarters that frequently sends soldiers to combat zones and to other points in East Asia.
The 19th Group is a National Guard unit with one of its companies based in Buckley. About 40 of its soldiers are deployed in Afghanistan.
Col. Steve Johnson, 1st Group’s deputy commander, said McClintock helped the JBLM headquarters expand in a period of growth when it added a fourth battalion.
He said McClintock chose to leave active-duty Special Forces, but still wanted to contribute to its mission.
“He did his time on active duty, enjoyed what he did,” Johnson said. “His personal life changed a little bit. He still wanted to serve. He went right over to 19th Group, and shortly after arriving there, he deployed. I would suspect he volunteered.”
McClintock is the first local soldier to die in combat since Capt. Jennifer Moreno of Madigan Army Medical Center was killed on a Special Operations mission in Afghanistan in October 2013.