U.S. Army Private Matt O’Hern of West Caldwell is in Mississippi this week preparing for his first deployment to Afghanistan.
The 19-year-old O'Hern boarded a bus at 2 a.m. from Teaneck Armory to McGuire Air Force Base last Thursday his mother, Leanne O’Hern, said. She said he will be in Afghanistan for nine months, but isn’t privy to exact details.
She does know that sending her older son off to war is hard. Along with a strong sense of pride, she admitted, there have been a lot of prayers and tears.
“He always from an early age aspired to help people,” she said. “He's excited and happy about going over and defending the country. We're just very, very, very proud of him.”
After graduating from in 2011, O’Hern signed up for the National Guard. He concluded training and spent a semester at Montclair State, where he is studying criminal history.
O’Hern is a volunteer with the as well as the . At the firehouse, his locker is adorned with American and National Guard flags.
Tom O'Hern, a West Caldwell Councilman, serves on the WCFD with his nephew and godson.
"You go around town and everyone has the same comment about him—that he’s such a good kid," he said. "He’s responsible and everyone respects him. It’s a pretty big honor for someone that young to have so much respect."
Meanwhile his mom said she's had a lot of support from family and friends, who gathered for a farewell celebration earlier in the month.
She’ll be able to keep in touch with her son through letters and Skype, but can’t wait to see his smile in person again.
“My advice to him was please don't lose your smile while you are away,” she said.
Anybody interested in writing to U.S. Army Private 2 Matt O’Hern or sending him care packages, should contact Lisapaulbeaver@aol.com.