Tragic Young Army Veteran Inspires Millions With Heroic Final Act

by : Tom Percival on : 26 Dec 2015 11:41

A brave, young veteran’s last moments of life have gone viral, inspiring millions around the world.

Staff Sergeant Matthew Whalen, 35, a four-time combat veteran from Fort Worth, Texas, suffered a massive stroke on Saturday, just days before Christmas.


The devastating brain hemorrhage left the soldier brain dead and dependent on life support.

His family then made the difficult decision to take him off the machine on Dec. 21st.

grid-cell-7315-1451081932-2Facebook: seanhatton82

In his final moments, a spontaneous Honour Guard ceremony took place to pay tribute to the fallen veteran.


Members of the armed forces, his family, and medical staff lined the halls at attention as he passed by. Before he went into surgery an American flag was laid on his chest.

A family friend captured the incredible scene on her phone as Whalen was taken out of his hospital room at Plaza Fort Worth Medical Center.

grid-cell-18789-1451081966-7Facebook: seanhatton82

Whalen’s wife, Hannah Gradisar-Whalen, who also served in the army, can be seen saying goodbye to her husband.


The couple had planned on moving with their two children to Colorado this weekend.

We say farewell to Staff Sergeant Matthew James Whalen. In his final act on this Earth, it’s only fitting that he gave his life and in return saved two others. And it’s almost as if it were meant to be that the two donor recipients happened to be veterans. There is no SOP or protocol for this type of ceremony, but with the help of Matt’s wife Hannah, all of his family, the nursing staff, and an Honor Guard we were able to show our love and appreciation in the best way we could. All of you out there scattered throughout our country this close to Christmas can rest assured tonight. Your prayers and kind words these last couple days have carried the Whalen family and the support was truly felt.Hannah wanted this to be posted to Facebook for everyone to see and be part of.Thank you all once again. Funeral arrangements will be pushed out by Hannah at a more appropriate time. Harlow Danger, Matt Whalen, Rafael Machuca, Matt N Stacey Lussi, Felix Garcia, Andrew Lee, Terry Goble, Krystle N Justin Barnes.

Posted by Sean Hatton on Monday, 21 December 2015


Hannah wrote on Facebook:

When Matthew left us he was at peace, he was happy in life, and excited to begin a new chapter of his life in Colorado and be closer to his daughter Sadie.

He was enrolled in school in Colorado. Life was very good.

He fought for his children literally until the day he died.


Unbeknownst to his wife, the soldier hadn’t finished being a hero, after he donated his organs and saved two other veterans.


When Hannah learnt of her husbands selflessness, she claimed to be ‘at a loss for words’.

A GoFundMe page has been set up by family friends for the Whalen family and had raised over $67,000 (£45,000) by Christmas afternoon.

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Tom Percival

More of a concept than a journalist, Tom Percival was forged in the bowels of Salford University from which he emerged grasping a Masters in journalism. Since then his rise has been described by himself as ‘meteoric’ rising to the esteemed rank of Social Editor at UNILAD as well as working at the BBC, Manchester Evening News, and ITV. He credits his success to three core techniques, name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake.

Topics: News


Daily Mail and 1 other
  1. Daily Mail

    The final act of heroism: Moment former comrades, family and hospital staff line the corridors to give a final salute to young veteran donating his organs to fellow soldiers

  2. Buzzfeed

    Young Veteran On Life Support Has Final Heroic Act