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Tu-Uyen Tran, Forum Communications Co., Published August 16 2011

Fosston High graduate killed in Afghanistan leaves behind wife, three children

GRAND FORKS – U.S. Army Sgt. Matthew Harmon, a native of Lengby, Minn., survived two tours in Iraq, including a mortar attack that seriously injured a nearby soldier, but, a month into his first tour in Afghanistan, he has been killed by a roadside bomb.

He was 29.

His father, Tom Harmon, said that, according to the military, Matthew died somewhere near the border with Pakistan. Matthew had gone out with a crew to recover another vehicle damaged by a roadside bomb when another bomb went off, Tom said. No other information about Matthew’s death has been released by the U.S. Department of Defense.

When Matthew’s body is returned to them, his family will bury him in Lengby, where he grew up, Tom said.

Matthew Harmon leaves behind his wife, Nicole, a Grand Forks native; three children, Danika, 8, Vincent, 5, and Elsie, 3; his mother, Irene; and siblings Melissa, Dean and Mark. Matthew was the oldest of the four children.

Growing up in eastern Polk County, Matthew was an athlete at Fosston (Minn.) High School – he was in football, cross country and track and field – and an artist, Tom said. In 1999, when Matthew was a senior, he enlisted in the National Guard.

After graduation, he moved to Grand Forks, where he met his wife, to attend the University of North Dakota. He was studying stage setup for the performing arts when, in 2004, he decided to enlist full time in the Army.

Tom said Matthew enjoyed being in the Army and he wanted to make a contribution. His first tour in Iraq was “tough,” Tom said, and, toward the end, Matthew had a close call when a mortar hit the barracks in which he was sleeping. Another soldier in the same barracks was seriously injured, Tom said, but Matthew only got a scratch.

Matthew rarely talked about the war, Tom said, but he believes the second tour in Iraq was better than the first.

Tom said he worries most for Matthew’s children and wife, who live in Germany, where Matthew was stationed. The family is trying to get them settled somewhere where the trauma won’t be too much for them, he said.


Tu-Uyen Tran is a writer for the Grand Forks Herald