MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The body of a local soldier who collapsed and died after a routine training run has returned to South Florida.READ MORE: Missing Miami Woman Yennyfer Rodriguez Found
Matthew Hester died on Monday, July 28th, after coming back from training at Fort Carson in Colorado.
The Army Specialist and combat medic was 28 years old. He was assigned to the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division.
The plane carrying his body in a flag-draped casket arrived at Fort Lauderdale International Airport Thursday afternoon and was given a planeside military salute.
His parents and other family members were devastated when they learned of his death.
Matt had just texted his mother the night before to tell her he loved them – his last communication.
“I woke up the next morning and noticed he didn’t text and I said, ‘They must be real busy, the first day back out of the field and back on base,'” his mother, Christine, told CBS4 News last week.
“He’s good now and we are good also, but it’s painful right now,” Matt’s father, Ronnie, said.
Matt had a degree in anthropology from the University of Florida, a nursing degree from the University of South Florida, a love of golf, the saxophone, family and God.READ MORE: Confessed Parkland School Shooter Nikolas Cruz To Plead Guilty Wednesday To Massacre
“My son was a devout believer in Christ,” his father said.
But his family said he wanted more than that. One day after a basketball injury Matt decided to challenge himself and join the U.S. Army last year.
“The Army, he had been doing, seeing some things and that looked pretty interesting to him. Not only interesting, it would give him the opportunity to see places he’s never seen outside of the U.S. and help pay for his student loans,” said his father Ronnie.
“It wasn’t like we were happy about it. You really wanna go in the military? But I said, ‘We’ll support you. If that’s what you want, we’ll support you,” said Christine.
He loved them for it – always assuring them in the long run, the military would also allow him to help his aging parents.
“Any adjective, that was him – from being joyful, grateful, kind, considerate,” said Ronnie. He added his son was “exemplary of what you would call goodness.”
His mother cried and said, “He was special, he was a special child for me.”
Matt is the second child the Hesters have lost recently. They lost a daughter to heart disease four years ago.
His cause of death is still unknown.MORE NEWS: Arrest Affidavit: Accused Hollywood Cop Killer Jason Banegas Claims He Was Trying To Kill Himself In Struggle With Slain Officer Yandy Chirino
A viewing is scheduled for Friday, August 5th at the Mitchell Funeral Home located at 8080 NW 22 Avenue in Miami. The following day, there will be a funeral service at the Cornerstone Bible Fellowship Church at 2390 NW 87 Street in Miami.