Thursday, April 9, 2020
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Matt Lourey remembered at memorial service
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Sen. Becky Lourey, right, comforts her husband Gene at Friday's memorial service for their son, Matthew, who was killed in Iraq last week. (MPR Photo/Bob Kelleher)
About 1,000 people attended a memorial service in Finlayson on Friday for Matthew Lourey. The Army helicopter pilot was killed in Iraq last week. Lourey was a son of state Sen. Becky Lourey.

Finlayson, Minn. — The gym at East Central High School was full.

Becky and Gene Lourey raised 12 children in this neighborhood, and many people here feel connected with the family.

Matt Lourey's extended family sat together. Becky Lourey's colleagues from the Capitol filled other chairs on the gym floor. In the bleachers, friends and neighbors came to pay their respects to Matt, and to the Lourey family.

Randy Wendt, a local National Guard chaplain, conducted the service, reading messages from people who'd known Matt as a child, from family members, and from his fellow soldiers.

His sister, Heidi, writes, "I will miss Matt's smile, and his love and friendship, his compassion, his sense of humor, his competitive spirit, and his sense of duty and honor. But I think I will miss his laughter most of all."

High school classmates have fond memories of Matt and his passion. Kim Meyer of Kerrick recalls, "Since he was little he loved to sketch. Usually the drawings were astronauts, spaceships, airplanes, or helicopters. He was destined for the sky even then."

Matt's Army colleagues were also touched by Matt's life. Don Clark recalls, "Matt was an inspiration to all around him. At the National Training Center, during a training mission, when he was stuck in the desert for 18 hours, he got down to his shorts and went rock climbing. He always found good in everything and everyone."

Matt Lourey married a fellow soldier, Captain Lisa Lourey, about three years ago. She said her husband was her mentor, her counselor, her life.

"He possessed an unwavering dedication to the service of his country, his fellow aviators, and the troops on the ground. He was a goof-ball, playing practical jokes, and as everyone knows, a great storyteller, but never at the expense of someone's feelings or their dignity. A few of you may be amazed, but somehow I draw a little comfort from his death. He died never sacrificing his dreams due to insecurity or self-doubt. There aren't a lot of us who can do that. There's another passage from the Scripture that I'd like to take a moment. It's from Isaiah, and I think any warrior in this audience can identify. 'I heard the voice of the Lord, and he said, 'whom shall I send?' And I said, 'Here I am Lord. Send me.'"

"Members of the family, I cannot give you an answer today why your husband and son and brother died," said Dean Johnson, the Senate Majority Leader and also a National Guard chaplain. "But I do know this: that in some parts of the world there are other people now, because of his being a soldier, an aviator, that terrorism is eradicated and slowed down. And there are children who now have it better. There are women who now have it better, and there are citizens who have it better because of people like Matthew Lourey and all the men and women who wear the uniform."

After the service, a local American Legion post presented a rifle volley, and two helicopters flew overhead.

Flags from the Minnesota Capitol were presented to Lourey's wife and mother. Matt Lourey will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.