Too often, when presented with the opportunity to help someone, we pass up the chance. That wasn’t the case for Pvt. Matthew Eberhardt.
Eberhardt has been in the Kansas Army National Guard since December 2022 and drills with the Recruit Sustainment Program at Pittsburg State University. He was on his way to pick up his prom outfit and stopped at the Casey’s in Parsons to see his mother. As he got out of the car, he was approached by a woman.
“She asked if I knew anything about working on cars,” said Eberhardt, who is learning to be an auto mechanic in high school. “I said ‘Yeah, I know a little bit.’ I know enough to get a car running again, but not too much, so I decided to help her.”
When he inspected her engine, he was able to spot the trouble.
“The coolant manifold broke,” Eberhardt explained. “The pipe slipped off, so I took the clamp off and pushed the pipe on. Then I bought her some coolant.”
With that, Eberhardt sent the woman on her way and went on to collect his prom outfit, thinking no more about the matter.
However, Eberhardt’s mother gave the woman her phone number, which set in motion another chain of events. The woman’s brother, Ben Henderson, is a retired lieutenant colonel who works as a Department of the Army civilian in San Antonio, Texas. He learned of the incident through a cousin, so during a visit to Kansas to see some family, he decided to track Eberhardt down through that phone number to thank him, surprising Eberhardt during his April drill.
“I was very surprised,” said Eberhardt. “I was not expecting that.”
“My first impression of Matthew is he is an amazing young man,” said Henderson. “ Most people would have walked right past my sister. I was even more impressed by his humbleness and selfless service.
“Another thing which stuck out was when he said, ‘That’s the way we do it here.’ His mother also said the same thing when I talked with her to locate him and she also said, “We pay it forward.’”
Henderson also contacted Stacy Smith, principal at Labette County High School, to congratulate her on having a student like Eberhardt.
“She said Matthew is a great person,” said Henderson. “She said that his selfless service was not a surprise and that he was a very humble young man who more than likely did what he did and didn’t tell anyone.
“Matthew Eberhardt is the type of young man we need in our Army/National Guard today,” said Henderson.