Soldier Honored: Matthew I. Pionk
Hometown: Oliver, WI
Branch of Service: Army
Rank: Sergeant First Class
Sergeant First Class Matthew I. Pionk, 30, of Oliver, Wisc., was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Vilseck, Germany. died Jan. 9 in Sinsil, Iraq, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated during combat operations against al-Qaida strongholds outside of Baghdad.
A 1996 graduate of Superior High School, SFC Pionk enjoyed playing basketball, hunting and working on cars. During high school he restored a 1970 Chevy truck. Two years after his high school graduation, SFC Pionk enlisted in the Army. Throughout his career SFC Pionk was highly decorated and rose up the ranks quickly due to his natural ability to lead. Many who knew him described him as a one-of-a-kind soul and a bold leader. He earned a Bronze Star during his first tour of duty for helping a fellow soldier who was injured.
He married Melanie Lewis in March 1998 and was on his second tour of duty in Iraq when he was killed. SFC Pionk had been in the Army for nine years. He is survived by his wife and three children, one of whom is a Folds of Honor Higher Education scholarship recipient.