Soldier near skirmishes | RecordCourier.com

Soldier near skirmishes

by Regina Purcell, Staff Writer

“As a mother, I am not thrilled he’s holding a submachine gun and being in battle gear. It is not how you want to picture your son.”

Selena Richardson, of Minden, is talking about her son Matthew Paul, 21, a 2000 Douglas High School graduate serving in the U.S. Army near the escalating skirmishes in Iraq.

CNN.com reported violence in Iraq as U.S.-led coalition forces battle on two fronts — Sunni insurgents in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, and the militia of Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. More than 12 Americans have died this week in the battle.

Matthew is the father of six-month-old son , who lives with mom (in another state. (The mother did not want several pieces of information published, such as her name, Matt’s unit, or his location.) He has three siblings, Nicole Richardson, 15, a Carson High cheerleader, Colton Richardson, 11, who attends Fritch Elementary School in Carson, where their mother Selena Richardson teaches. His father Dale Paul lives in Gardnerville with wife Karin and son Christopher, 17, a student at Douglas High School.

Dale Paul said a mortar blasted 15 feet away from Matthew recently.

“His only reaction to the mortar was a chuckle. I couldn’t tell how much nervousness was in it due to noise,” said Dale Paul. ” He didn’t suffer any injury. He did not mention if he was in the open or behind a sand-bagged wall. He says it is pretty routine to get mortared at night. He was actually talking to his wife one night and she said you could hear the explosions while he was on the phone.”

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Paul isn’t alone, as he joined the Army in the Buddy Program with Chris Breeden, who also graduated from Douglas in 2000. Douglas County has a few young men serving in Iraq. Garrett Goodlander of Gardnerville just returned from a tour overseas. James Pendergrass, a 1998 graduate of Douglas is on his second tour, according to Selena Richardson.

“They are typical small-town young men wanting to see a bigger world,” she said.

The family has not heard from Matt recently, and Dale said, “‘What you don’t know won’t hurt you’ doesn’t hold anymore.

Richardson said she is scared but tries to remain upbeat.

“I am probably like any other mom,” she said. “It scares me … I believe if you’re number’s up, you’re number up, but still I would rather him not be over there.”

She said the hardest part is knowing her son is missing out on his son’s early upbringing.

“I can deal with not seeing him for a year, but it is difficult for me to deal with that,” she said.

Matt’s wife and son visited the Valley last week and Richardson said she is very upbeat, also.

“For somebody just having a new baby and … recovering and having (her) husband gone, I think she is doing a fabulous job.”

Richardson said when Matt first enlisted, she waited outside the recruiter’s office in case, and sort of hoping, he would change his mind. But her son has been thriving in the military, easing up the ranks to sergeant.

“I am extremely proud of my son,” she said. “He was an absolute joy to raise. He never gave me a ounce of problems.”

n Regina Purcell can be reached at rpurcell@recordcourier.com or (775) 782-5121, ext. 211..