In Memory of Matthew C. Henderson, Cpl. U.S. Marine Corps
15 May 1979 – 26 May 2004
and his beloved Golden Retriever, Rocket
21 May 1991 – 8 April 2003
The friendship started simply enough – an energetic and fun-loving 12-year-old boy welcomed a gangly, curly Golden Retriever puppy into his home and heart. Matt loved the out-of-doors and was soon introducing his new buddy to his favorite pastimes – exploring, baseball and hunting. Matt taught Rocket (aka Rocky) to fetch, catch Milk Bones and later catch the errant baseball. Rocket assumed a position in the outfield and was, in Matt’s words, a “great center fielder.”
The family plan for Rocket to be an outdoor dog went by the wayside early that first winter. Rocket could be found sleeping on the floor by Matt’s bed. The outdoor games and fun grew to include indoor wrestling matches between the two best friends.
Matt joined the Marine Corps in September 2000, and after his basic and advanced training as a combat engineer, he was stationed at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, California. “How’s Rocky doing?” was always one of Matt’s first questions to his family during telephone calls home.
Rocket was taken by cancer during Matt’s first tour, the initial invasion of Iraq, and died on April 8, 2003. Matt learned of Rocket’s death upon returning home. Matt was shaken and saddened by the loss of Rocket, and one of the first things he wanted to do upon returning home was to visit Rocket’s grave.
Matt was again deployed to Iraq in February 2004. He recognized the increased danger and took his job as a squad leader and combat engineer very seriously.
On May 26, 2004, Matt and two fellow Marines were killed when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated as they approached. Matt was able to warn the rest of his squad to retreat before the IED exploded.
To the love and friendship between a man and his Golden Retriever, we dedicate this web site to the honor and memory of two best friends – Matt, a true hero, and Rocket, a great example of man’s best friend.