In July 2004, Sgt. Wilder was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell, Ky. While with the 5th Special Forces Group, he was deployed on three separate occasions. During his last deployment he learned that he had been accepted to aviation school at Fort Rucker, Ala.
This decision cut his deployment short and he returned home to several exciting television appearances in December 2007. On his return home during the Christmas season, he and his family were featured on “Good Morning America” with Diane Sawyer. This happy homecoming is still being celebrated, and was featured in the December 1, 2009, Woman's Day Magazine.
Christmas of 2007, Wilder’s daughter Mariah, then six years old had told her Mother and Grandmother, that all she wanted for Christmas was her Daddy wrapped up in a box like a present. Having Dad home for Christmas was also his daughter Destiny’s wish as well.
Both girls attended North Todd Elementary School in Elkton, Ky., at the time, and their mother, Desiray was a volunteer at the school. When Desiray learned that her husband would be coming home six months early in order to enter aviation school, she decided to grant her daughters’ request — and have their “gift” delivered at school.
During an assembly program on a December day in 2007, with the entire student body, along with a local television crew, Mariah and Destiny go their first glimpse of their “gift” from Dad — a huge wrapped box in the middle of the gym floor. First a note accompanying the gift was read aloud. The note said, “Dear Destiny and Mariah, I am sorry I had to leave so close to your birthdays and Christmas. I wished and prayed that I could be home for Christmas. I hope this present makes up for the time I was gone. I love you both. Merry Christmas.”
To cheers from their classmates and teachers, the girls unwrapped the box and found their Dad. Their shrieks of happiness was caught on film by the television crew and the video called "Daddy in a Box" ran on CNN news and the story was also picked up by Good Morning America.
After his happy homecoming, Wilder reported to Fort Rucker, Ala., in March 2008, where he was promoted to Warrant Officer 1 and began aviation classes. Upon completion of simulator, classroom and actual flying time and exams his choice of helicopter was the UH-60 Black Hawk. WO l Wilder graduated and received his aviator wings on Nov. 12, 2009.
Wilder enlisted in the Navy in January 2002 as a private and began his advancement in rank and accomplishments. Upon completion of basic training, he signed up as a Paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division. While stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., he was deployed with the 8nd Airborne to Iraq in support of the Global War on Terrorism. He received the rank of sergeant before leaving Fort Bragg.
During his service, Wilder has received several medals and honors including four Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, Global War of Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, two Army Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Aviator Wings, Parachutist Badge, Romanian Jump Wings.
A 1998 graduate of Bell County High School, he is the son of Lewis and Becky Wilder of Miracle, Kentucky.
"His brothers, father and I are extremely proud of Matthew as well as the other military men and women who serve this great country. We are especially appreciative of our daughter-in-law and our granddaughters who make a tremendous sacrifice in supporting Matthew in his career choice," said WO l Wilder’s mother, Becky.
He will begin moving his family, wife Desiray, and daughters Destiny and Mariah, to his former station at Fort Campbell in the next few months.