Dade City Post Office Being Renamed for Fallen Soldier
On March 15 – what would have been the 28th birthday of U.S. Army Sergeant Marcus Mathes – his mother, Sue Sawyer, other relatives, friends, and public officials will gather in Dade City to rename the post office in his memory.
A former resident of Sebring and a graduate of Zephyrhills High School, Mathes enlisted in the army at age 23 and was assigned to Company F, 94th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), based in Fort Polk, La. He served as a driver in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from October 2006 through March 2007 and, in November 2007, was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Mathes and two fellow soldiers were killed by indirect enemy rocket fire outside Baghdad on April 28, 2008.
In 2009, with the co-sponsorship of the entire Florida Congressional delegation, U.S. Representative Ginny Brown-Waite (FL-5th) wrote H.R. 1516, authorizing the Dade City Post Office to be renamed the “Sergeant Marcus Mathes Post Office.” Through C-SPAN, Sawyer was able to watch as the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill on April 22, 2009. It was signed into law by President Barack Obama the following November.
“Sergeant Mathes gave his life in service to our nation, protecting the freedoms we hold dear,” Congresswoman Brown-Waite said. “His family, friends, and loved ones should know that Congress will never forget his sacrifice and commitment.”
A graduate of Zephyrhills High School, Mathes was inspired by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, to enlist in the U.S. Army. During his service to Iraq, Mathes’ wife Julia frequently sent him care packages from the Dade City Post Office.
Before he joined the Army, Mathes told his mother, “If I go, I’ll send somebody home.” After he was moved to Baghdad, he posted the same message on his MySpace page. Within two weeks, he was killed in action.
“He set a goal, and he met it,” Sawyer said, expressing a thought that continues to give her comfort. “Since his death, I have felt the reassurance that this was his mission in life, and the Lord took him home.”
“I don’t feel [the post office dedication] is just about Marcus. I think he was chosen because of his relationship with the Lord. When people see the plaque, I hope they see him as one of the many people serving in the military, people they know and who put their lives on the line, not just those who died. I think it gives hope to other family members and the troops – to know that we support them in life, we support them in death, and we honor them.”
The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at the post office, 37926 Church Avenue, in Dade City, about 40 miles north of Tampa. Participants will include Dade City postmaster Jeff Alston, Debra Gornick, manager of U.S. Post Office Operations, Jose Garcia Acosta, U.S. Navy veteran, and Representative Brown-Waite. David Hale, SFCC registration specialist and music pastor of Crossroads Community Church, will deliver the benediction. A reception will immediately follow at the National Guard Army, 38017 Live Oak Ave.