DALLAS TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A life scout’s project to become an Eagle Scout had an emotional reveal. Matthew Roberts created a memorial for a fallen soldier in Luzerne County.
It’s a tribute six months in the making.
Life scout Matthew Roberts wanted this Memorial Day to have a lasting memory by dedicating a site at Dallas High School to graduate and local legend First Lieutenant Michael Cleary.
“He was a true hero. He gave the ultimate sacrifice of his life and it really inspired me because even though I'm not going to go into the service it was still a great thing for him to do,” Roberts said.
First Lieutenant Cleary was a standout soccer player at Dallas High School, graduating in 1999.
Four years later he enlisted in the Army and served for two years before he was killed in Iraq in an ambush.
Even though Matthew never got the chance to know First Lieutenant Cleary, he has always held his memory close.
“He played in the Back Mountain Soccer League. I've done that since I was four. It was just a great connection there,” Matthew said.
Matthew worked alongside First Lieutenant Cleary’s father Jack and his mother Marriane every step of the way.
“There's a respect and there's a caring and there's a feeling of duty to help those who have served and I think it's important that people remember,” Jack Cleary said.
Because Matthew gave the Cleary family so much, they wanted to do the same.
“This flag flew over Combat Operating Post Cleary in 2008. Matthew, Marriane, and I and Patrick would like you to have this. Thank you very much,” Jack Cleary said.
Matthew hopes to carry on a Memorial Day tradition at this site every year honoring First Lieutenant Cleary and all fallen soldiers.