His family says he personified the fighting spirit and tenacity of the best of our armed forces. Yesterday, we told you about the death of Private Alex Mattox. He came from the small town of Jenkins in Morris County, just west of Daingerfield.
KLTV 7 News' Bob Hallmark spoke with his family today, and they want all of us to remember the young soldier who was tragically killed in an accident - and who unselfishly gave all for his country.
"When 2 Army guys come to your door at 8:30 in the evening you know that the worst has happened," said Mike Mattox. Mike is Alex Mattox's father.
Private Alex Mattox, a member of the Army's First Infantry Division, died Sunday at Forward Operating Base Bostick, in Afghanistan.
The Army says a fellow soldier was performing maintenance on his weapon when it discharged and hit Mattox.
"He was a good son. I don't know how we're going to deal with this loss. My son was a hero to me even before he left, the fact that he volunteered for the Infantry. I thought he was a hero then," Mike told us.
His family says he was a strapping young man, tough as boot leather, and they knew only too well his commitment to the Army and his duty.
"He said, 'you know dad, you've always taught me to love this country', and he said that's what I'm doing, someone has to do it," Mike said of his son. "As a parent, I would give anything to have him back, but he was grown man he made that decision."
He had a zest for life and a well-known sense of humor.
"He always had that sideways smile on his face that grin like he was in on a joke that we weren't, always had a great sense of humor."
Alex decided there were more important things than his own personal gain. Serving his country was above all else, and that's how his family wants east Texans to remember him.
"I worry and I think and dwell on all the memories I won't have with him. Alex believed that the sacrifice was worth it, he believed the risk was worth it, he believed in our way of life and he believed it was his job to defend it."
Mattox had been deployed in Afghanistan since June, after joining the Army last October. He would have been home on leave in two weeks.
Funeral services are pending at South Union Baptist Church in Daingerfield.