We say farewell to Staff Sergeant Matthew James Whalen. In his final act on this Earth, it’s only fitting that he gave his life and in return saved two others. And it’s almost as if it were meant to be that the two donor recipients happened to be veterans. There is no SOP or protocol for this type of ceremony, but with the help of Matt’s wife Hannah, all of his family, the nursing staff, and an Honor Guard we were able to show our love and appreciation in the best way we could. All of you out there scattered throughout our country this close to Christmas can rest assured tonight. Your prayers and kind words these last couple days have carried the Whalen family and the support was truly felt.Hannah wanted this to be posted to Facebook for everyone to see and be part of.Thank you all once again. Funeral arrangements will be pushed out by Hannah at a more appropriate time.
Posted by U.S Army W.T.F! moments on Tuesday, December 22, 2015
A military veteran saved the lives of two veterans through the donation of his organs at a hospital in Texas.
A few days before Christmas, Staff Sgt. Matt Whalen suffered a stroke. After he had died, Whalen’s organs were given to two veterans in need of them.
Whalen’s wife said she was in a lot of pain after losing him, but she took comfort in the fact that he saved other people’s lives even in death.
“Parts of Matt’s soul are going to be everywhere. You know? And that makes me happy that he is still serving even after he died,” said wife Hannah Gradisar.
As Whalen’s body was being moved into surgery to recover his organs, fellow veterans lined up in the hallways and honored him as his body passed by them.
One of the nurses at the hospital recorded the moment on video, and one of Whalen’s friends posted it on Facebook. The video has been viewed more than 10 million times.
“He fully deserved that recognition. For everything he has fought for and the things he struggled through,” said Gradisar.
According to KRDO.com, Whalen’s family said they felt some relief when they found out that his organs would go to two veterans.
“I think there was no better way for him to go. In his death, be giving to others. That’s what Matt was all about,” said Gradisar.
Gradisar said Whalen was moving to Colorado to be closer to his daughter Sadie when he collapsed.
“Matt was your typical infantryman, a big tough guy with his beard and all that but Sadie was just the love of his life. He was so careful about how he braided her hair and put it in pigtails,” said Gradisar.
Gradisar said Whalen’s second love was the Army.
During his time in the Army, Whalen was deployed four times. Soldiers that served with him remember him as an incredible leader, mentor, and friend.
“It was heartbreaking. He is 35 and just like that…gone,” said Gradisar.
“He would give so much to others at his own expense. And in a way, it was so fitting that that is how he went. Even in his death, he gave something to a total stranger. And he has done that in life also,” said Gradisar.