“Quiet Heroes”

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United States Air Force

Matthew Seidler, Bryan Bell and Matthew Schwartz (l-r)

They’re somewhere on the warfare spectrum between hard-charging infantrymen who live to kill, and combat medics, who live to save lives. They’re the explosive ordnance disposal techs, the guys who risk life and limb to find and disable roadside bombs and other boomers that could kill or main their comrades. A roadside bomb killed three Air Force EOD techs Jan. 5 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan as they rode in their truck: Senior Airman Bryan R. Bell, 23, Tech. Sgt. Matthew S. Schwartz, 34; and Airman 1st Class Matthew R. Seidler, 24. Air Force Times has a peek into their lives. One of their moms called her son a “quiet hero.”

Schwartz’s sacrifice was honored Saturday in Traverse City, Mich. On Sunday, some 2,000 mourners joined Bell’s family in the local high school near Erie, Penn. On Tuesday, Seidler’s funeral will be held in Pikesville, Md., with his burial to follow later in the day at Arlington National Cemetery. The trio was performing an important mission: while IED deaths, like theirs, have accounted for about half of U.S. war dead in Afghanistan in recent years, so far in 2012 they account for eight of 10 – 80%.