11/23/2014

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Local soldier comes home after helping with Oso search efforts

Local soldier comes home after helping with Oso search efforts
YAKIMA, Wash. -- A National Guard solider has just returned home after helping with the search effort in Oso for almost two weeks.

Christopher Matus is a Specialist in the Army National Guard Reserves.
He's already served one deployment in Afghanistan.
Now, he's had the honor of serving closer to home, helping families search for missing loved ones from the Oso mudslide.

It's a place most people would want to avoid.
Filled now with death and destruction in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Yet Christopher Matus was honored to serve.

"It's definitely worth it all, you know you go out there, you wake up at five in the morning, be on site by 7:30, and you work all day until you know the operators are done working," said Matus. "And you know it's tiring, you know you're going through mud, sometimes you're waist high, and sometimes you get stuck and it's definitely tough."

Beyond the physical challenges, Matus says the hardest part of the job was finding bodies. He said when a body was recovered everyone on site would take a moment of silence. All the equipment was turned off, and the workers would remove their hard hats. Matus and his unit worked right along side family members searching for their loved ones.

"You describe what the body kind of looked like, and sometimes you know when you're describing you can just tell that they know, and all they tell you is thank you," said Matus.

Matus says serving close by in Oso was different than his previous deployments.

"It's way different than here, you know you're dealing with civilians and people's hometown," said Matus. "You know it's really close, it hits home to a lot of people and no one wants to go out there and recover you know little kids or children or anything like that."

The death toll has now risen to 39, with seven people still missing. The community of Oso has a long road ahead of them. But, Matus says their strength was what inspired him

"I was honored to go out there and help out that community," said Matus.

Matus says other units from the National Guard are still stationed in Oso assisting with the recovery.
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