A Shadle Park High School student who joined the Army shortly after graduating in 2005 was killed Monday in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Matthew H. Stiltz, 26, was about six months into a tour of duty in Afghanistan after serving two tours in Iraq, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas, said. He died of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with artillery fire in Zerok, a town in eastern Afghanistan about 12 miles from the border with Pakistan.
Erin Ruehl, a teacher at Shadle and Stiltz’s adviser for DECA, recalled Stiltz as a nice young man who was “very respectful of the traditions of our country and very patriotic.” She said he talked about serving in the military while in school.
Stiltz was active in DECA, an association of marketing students, and a leader in the student-run enterprise, the Highlander Hut, a store which sells snacks, supplies and school-spirit apparel. He was very “tech savvy” and as a senior, was a member of a two-person team that competed in the International Career Development Conference in Anaheim, Calif.
The teams were given 25 minutes to study a scenario involving a marketing problem, devise a solution and articulate it to judges. Although the Shadle team didn’t win, just to be one of 60 selected from around the country was a major accomplishment, Ruehl said.
Newspaper files show Stiltz graduated from Shadle in June 2005, entered the military soon after and finished his early Army training by the end of that year. He arrived at Fort Riley in February 2006 and has been stationed there ever since, except for his deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
An infantryman, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
He was promoted posthumously to staff sergeant, and is expected to receive the Purple Heart, a Fort Riley spokesman said.
Services are pending.