Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Annie Syers
Matthew Limeberry is a focused soldier currently serving in Afghanistan. He’s also a loving husband to Jessica, a devoted father to Bryon (9), Cohen (5), Grady (4), and Adler (2), and now he is the Center Grove Dad of the Year, too.
On a whim, Matthew joined the military with the intention of attending dental school and finishing his collegiate career debt-free. After graduating and becoming a Commissioned Officer, however, he decided that he was committed to serving in the Army in any capacity. A Military Intelligence Officer within the Indiana Army National Guard, Matthew’s job is to ensure that various commanders receive accurate, actionable and timely intelligence regarding a multitude of threats and enemy actions to help them make informed decisions in combat.
“In my current assignment in Afghanistan, I directly train, advise and assist the Afghan National Police within their National Police Coordination Center, trying to emulate a proper intelligence fusion process that enables the Afghan National Security Defense Force to protect and defend their country against Taliban and other insurgent groups,” explains Matthew, who, this past April, celebrated his 13-year “Army-versary,” as he calls it. He’s currently serving his second tour in Afghanistan (his first was in 2009-2010), and he gets through the nine-month deployment by drawing inspiration from his family.
“My wife leaves me speechless,” he says. “She’s a true ‘women-preneur’ dominating the bridal industry but humbly serving those around her with everything she has. She is an amazing role model, mother and wife. I couldn’t do life without her.”
Matthew’s favorite part of being a dad is watching his sons grow. “Fatherhood changes your priorities. [Children] are a wonderful reminder that other things can wait,” he says.
When Matthew is away, he texts, sends e-mails and writes notes to let his children know he’s thinking of them. He’s even FaceTimed with their classrooms on special occasions.
“On Cohen’s sixth birthday, I FaceTimed him at school,” Limeberry says. “He walked me around the cafeteria, showing me his friends and his classroom. It was a joy to share part of his birthday with him.”
When he’s home, Jessica says her husband is on the floor wrestling with the boys, outside on the basketball courts, or cuddled up on the couch reading books or watching their favorite movie.
“He’s taught them the importance of integrity, kindness, love and respect,” Jessica says.
“I want them to love God and have an unshakeable faith. I want them to give more then they receive and be okay with that,” says Matthew, who returns home in mid-October. “As my son, Grady, puts it, ‘We will monster hug, squeeze each other tight and cry big happy tears.’”
Matthew encourages dads who are fortunate enough to be at home with their kids to be present in their lives and to love unconditionally.
“Find a way to make a difference and be the role model they deserve,” Matthew says. “We need a future of great men and women, and that starts at home.”