When two Green Berets pulled up outside Allie McClintock’s Tacoma home in January and came through the white picket fence to front porch, her first thought was that her husband, Sgt. First Class Matthew McClintock, was injured.
“Maybe he fell and hurt his ankle. He’s kind of clumsy sometimes, and I knew his foot had been bothering him,” she said. “When they told me he was dead, everything went grey.”
Sfc. McClintock, 30, died while serving with the Washington National Guard in Afghanistan. His was the 25th U.S. death in Afghanistan since the Obama administration officially ended the war there in 2014.
Allie McClintock had lost her husband of three years and her soul mate. She described him as nerdy and romantic. He charmed her with his love of “Star Wars” and quotes from Yoda.
“You know being in love before, it was because I loved somebody because they made me happy. With Matthew, I loved him because I wanted to make him happy,” she said.
Allie McClintock last saw her husband in November, when he came home briefly from the Middle East for the birth of their first child -- a baby boy named Declan.
“He’s such an amazing little boy and he is so like his father already. He’s three months old and I can already see Matthew in him with everything he does,” she said.
Sfc. McClintock was on his third combat tour of the Middle East. He had told his wife he was going on a training mission. “He was going to go teach people stuff,” she said.
Being married to Special Forces often means accepting few details about long separations. Even when he was back in Tacoma between deployments, he never wore his uniform around his wife; he’d change before he got home.
Since Sfc. McClintock died, a curtain has lifted for Allie McClintock. She’s learned more about his life as a green beret from the soldiers he served with than he ever revealed himself.
They told her McClintock was killed trying to help to one of his wounded teammates during an intense fire fight in the city of Marja. Two other U.S. soldiers and four Afghan soldiers were wounded.
“Hearing the things his teammates said about him I was in awe. He wasn’t just my nerdy husband. He was a bad ass,” Allie McClintock said.
Before he deployed, he had to submit a document outlining his last wishes. The exercise was an indicator of the inherent danger of his job, but it was a task he and his wife approached with irreverence.
“One time he told me that he wanted to be blasted up to the moon,” she said. “Because to us it was just never a reality.”
She is now planning her husband’s funeral for real, this time with the reverence that a fallen soldier has earned. He’ll be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, but she said there’s no date yet.
His unit nominated him for a Silver Star, and she’s waiting for it.
“My husband will be buried with that on his chest because it’s a hero’s chest and that’s what he deserves. I will wait. Because that is all I have now is to stand for Matthew and to stand for Declan. Matthew stood for all of us when he fell.”
The military community and others have rallied around her. Supporters gathered for a memorial run in Seattle, and donations to the family’s GoFundMe page have topped $140,000.
Allie McClintock said the support has been overwhelming, humbling and inspiring. “I can’t just stay in bed. I have to get up and keep moving. I have to make sure that these people know, that they’ve made a difference. That Matthew made a difference,” she said.
Including McClintock, 2,381 U.S. service members have died in Afghanistan.