HYDE, Pa. – On Feb. 22, the District 9 Chapter of the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association inducted four into its 20th Hall of Fame class, including Matt Brinker of Redbank Valley, who received the Fallen Hero Award.
(Photo: The Brinkers family accepts the Hall of Fame award. Photo by Kenn Staub)
Brinker graduated from Redbank Valley High School in 2000, having compiled a career record of 98-27 with 52 pins. As a junior, he was district champion at 140 pounds, took second at the Northwest Regional tournament, and was seventh at the PIAA State Championships.
During his senior year, Brinker again qualified for regionals.
Following high school, Brinker served as a scout sniper in the Marine Corps being deployed to Afghanistan once and Iraq twice. After over four years of service in the Marines, he moved to the Navy and completed SEAL training. He had one national tasking deployment during his over six-and-a-half years in the Navy. Brinker was an expert rifleman, being credited with a sniper shot of over 1,000 meters in an achievement medal citation. He received two combat action ribbons, an Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon, two Iraq Campaign Ribbons and was an expert rifleman and pistol expert. He passed away in 2018 suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Brinker’s brother, retired Air Force Major Burt Brinker, and a host of family members accepted the Hall of Fame plaque and certificate from Mike Kundick, coach at Redbank Valley, to a standing ovation from those in attendance.
“Matthew is a true hero,” Burt Brinker said. “He provided sniper overwatch and protected many of his brothers in arms. He also took the incredible responsibility of ensuring those who followed him were not only ready but were experts at their job.”
According to Burt Brinker, wrestling played a prominent role in shaping his brother’s life.
“The same perfectionist attitude that was formed in his wrestling years translated directly over to his life and military career,” Burt Brinker said. “At Matthews’s funeral, I had the opportunity to meet many of Matt’s Marine and Navy brothers who had a plethora of stories that attest to the fact that wrestling develops a strong individual who knows what hard work is and isn’t afraid to do it.”