A Fort Worth, Texas, Army veteran was given a salute by comrades and family on Dec. 21 in the final moments of his life following a massive and sudden stroke.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Whalen suffered the severe stroke on Dec. 19, which left him brain-dead. His family made the decision to remove him from life support so his organs could be donated to fellow military veterans.
While Whalen was being wheeled out of his hospital room in his final moments, former and current service members held an impromptu honor guard ceremony in the hallway.
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“That's what Matt deserved. He was a four-time combat veteran,” Whalen’s wife, Hannah, said. “He was an exceptionally loving dad ... that ceremony that they did he deserved that recognition."
Whalen was taken to an operating room, where the organ donation procedure was performed.
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Whalen’s wife posted on Facebook about his impending passing.
“At 8pm local time Matt Whalen will give life to two veterans who are in dire need of organ transplants. Bulldog for life,” she wrote.
“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. Thank you everyone that prayed, showed up, sent words of encouragement, thought about us.”