Sgt. Matthew Aires was a member of the 1-501st PIR.
His job was a Squad Automatic Weapon gunner, and a member of the counter-intel team.
During a flanking mission with his platoon, he stepped into a deep hole upon their approach that wasn’t visible. Unfortunately, it hyperextended his body due to the weight of the gear he carried. But he got up from inside the wood line on his own and finished his objective.
Later on, his Sgt. at the time asked him what was wrong.
“You look like a dog that was hit by a car,” his Sgt. said.
“I’m fine,” Matthew said. “My back and neck hurt a bit. But I’m fine.”
“Straighten your legs out,” said Matthew’s Sgt.
“They are straight,” Matthew replied. “I’m in the prone position.”
Or so he thought.
Matthew’s Sgt. immediately got on the radio and had him medevaced.
“It turns out I had multiple herniated discs in my lower back,” Matthew said. “I also had to get part of my neck replaced because of the amount of nerve damage.”
Months and months of intense rehab followed, and that’s when Matthew fell in love with both powerlifting and MMA.
“I fought in combative tournaments for my unit,” he said. “But along with that love came a curse. I’ve received so many blows to the head TBI (traumatic brain injury) in my frontal lobe. I am still very much a warrior, and always will be.”
For Matthew, this insatiable desire to compete and make himself into a machine is rare. That’s why he’ll never give up.
“It is imperative that I set this standard as the proper example for my bloodline,” he said. “Lifting is important to me because it will help to protect my injuries. I feel it is very important to my body, because I want muscles like armor around my injuries. I can't put much bulk muscle on due to my joints, but I am still continuing my journey regardless. I have come back to fighting as a welterweight, and now practice Brazilian jujitsu.”
One of Matthew’s creeds has always been: “Falling down is an accident, staying down is a choice.”
“No one’s going to keep me down,” Matthew said.
From all of us at APEMAN, thank you for your service, Matthew.