Matthew D. Blankenship
- Marshfield Fire Protection District
- Age: 38
- Year of Death: 2013
On July 13, 2013, while fighting a structure fire, Matt and his partner were briefly trapped in the building. Rescued by fellow firefighters after his partner made it out, Matt suffered severe burns and was airlifted to Mercy Hospital Burn Center in Springfield, Missouri. He passed away on July 20, 2013.
Matt was born May 5, 1975, to Bruce and Flecia Blankenship, the oldest of three boys. Known as the daredevil, Matt would try anything once. His brothers looked up to him for his physical strength and his strength of character. His fondest childhood memories were of hunting, fishing, and spending time with family. At age 14, Matt started working at the local quarry. He always had the desire to work, and helping others was in his blood. Matt graduated from Marshfield High school in 1993, following in his dad’s footsteps to become a diesel technician. He worked at Peterbilt of Springfield for 20 years, where he loved hearing the engine fire up after being in pieces just hours before.
Matt joined the Marshfield Fire Department in April 2009. He said, “I wish I would have started this a long time ago. I feel like I have wasted my life not helping others.” By November 2009, he was promoted to engineer. He was awarded Rookie of the Year and then Firefighter of the Year in 2010. Matt became a certified first responder, Fire 1 & 2, HAZMAT awareness and instructor. Matt always had a smile on his face and led by example. Chief (Hobo) Jeter said, “Matt was the kind of firefighter that, if I told him to paint the firehouse red with a toothbrush, he would have done it, done it right, and never complained.”
Although Matt was shy, he easily became close with his fellow firefighters, whom he thought of as his second family. He worked closely with the cadets, including his daughter Brooke, providing positive instruction and reinforcement. You could count on Matt to share his honest opinion, followed by a handshake or a warm hug. He was genuine and truly cared.
Matt’s greatest passion was his family. He was a devoted husband to Amanda for 17 years and a loving father to Brooke, Megan, and Dylan. His love for them radiated. It was important to him to be a good provider and instill good values in his kids. He never left without kissing them goodbye and tucked them in every night. He worked in the yard with his son and played dolls with his girls. Strong in his faith, he was a youth leader and Sunday school teacher who loved those kids as if they were his own.
Matt was a loving and devoted husband, father, son, brother, and friend. His teachings, values, and memories live in the hearts of many.
Words can not express the honor it has been to get to know and love your family. I first met your wife Manda in March at a fundraiser in Clayton Missouri and in May I was introduced to your children, parents, siblings and fire department family. It was easy to see the care and compassion they all shared because of the positive impact you made within your family and community.– Heidi Packard
As you know Manda is an amazing person. Through the many stories filled with laughter and tears it was obvious that what you two shared was a gift and that gift is giving her the strength, faith and determination to live her new life. It is the love you shared that will walk beside her through all the firsts and all her ‘what if’s’. The same goes for your children. They are true siblings and look out for each other, drive each other crazy and can make you laugh until you cry. Brook with her ‘Walter’ attitude, Middle Minion Megan the favorite peace keeper and Squish your face Dylan are a magnetic force of love and laughter that reflects the foundation created by you and Manda.
Although I never had the honor of meeting you in person, I believe each moment I share with your family that I am being introduced to a part of you.
Tadgey is what brought your family into my world and I could not imagine my life without them, as they could not imagine life without you.
Together family can do anything and some times families need a little help from a friend and a friend sometimes needs a little help from a family.
Thank you for your beautiful family it is an honor to be their friend.
I would just like to thank Matthew. I have known the Blankenships for at my whole life so thanks.– Nash Rust