Corporal Mathew Hopkins
7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
Matthew was born the 27th of August 1987 in Christchurch, New Zealand. Mat left behind his wife Victoria and son Alex.
“Mat took an interest in cycling after watching the Tour De France, and made it his mission to peddle as fast as he could whilst on Robertson Barracks to get picked up for speeding. Mat was also incredibly competitive and would stay up late most nights to get the high score on the Nintendo Wii. ”
Mat was promoted to full Corporal before his 21st birthday and made section commander before his 2nd deployment in ’08.
“Mat and I met through MSN chat and Myspace when he “”added me as a friend”” and we started talking online, eventually giving each other our phone numbers and talking late into the night before he finally took a chance to come down from Darwin to Newcastle to meet in person, and the rest is history – we fell in love hard and fast.
I was working in the racehorse industry when the equine flu outbreak occurred in ’07, so I took the biggest chance by leaving my family, friends and my life all behind and only moving part way to Darwin and went to work at Ayers Rock Resort instead, where Mat came to visit me every 3-4 weeks and we got to experience an amazing part of our country and created memories of a lifetime. We did a few tours of Ayers Rock/Uluru and the Olgas/Kata Tjuta, and we did a sunset helicopter tour over both rock formations, and a Sounds of Silence dinner in the middle of the desert under the starry sky where we celebrated our engagement.
Mat proposed to me when I came up to Darwin for a very brief visit one weekend; it was wet season so it was stormy, humid, muggy and miserable weather so we were confined to our hotel room where we were watching TV, when Mat told him he had a surprise for me. He came into the room and got down on one knee in front of me and told me he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and asked me to marry him to which I of course said yes and straight away started crying – happy tears of course. I did 6 months living and working in the Red Center of Australia before moving up to Darwin to live with Mat in a sweet little unit in Bakewell. It was there that the next chapter of our lives began.
Mat was so excited when I told him I was pregnant; he was literally jumping up up and down for joy when I told him. We had multiple scans done to determine the due date as Mat was being deployed to Afghanistan as part of MRTF-1, and so when he came home for ROCL it was so he could be there for the birth of our son. Sadly on the day Mat came home to Australia my great grandmother had passed away so it was very mixed emotions when I greeted him at the front door – happy to see him but sad for my Nanna.
A week later, we had my Nan’s funeral in the morning, in the afternoon we then went to the registry in Newcastle and got married, and then went to the hospital for me to be induced (we were lucky we had a doctor who understood the situation and allowed for me to be induced just so that Mat could be there for the birth as our fear was he being home and nothing happened and then he went back to Afghanistan and then I went into labour). 12 hours later Alex was born, so within a 24hr period we had a funeral, a wedding and a birth.
We only got 4 days together as a family before Mat had to return to Afghanistan, so we made sure to get lots of photos of Mat with his son Alex.
Sadly 5 weeks later after we became a family of 3, Mat was killed in action in a battle against the Taliban on the 16th March 2009.
In the 12 years since Mat’s passing, Alex and I have been to many commemorations to honour Mat with presenting the Champion Section Commander trophy at the 7 platoon march outs at Singleton Infantry Army Base, the opening of the statemen’s meeting office at the NSW RSL HQ, the opening of the Mathew Hopkins Road in Darwin, and so much more.”
Corporal Mathew Hopkins, known as ‘Hoppy’ to his mates, was born on 27 August 1987 in Christchurch, New Zealand and arrived in Australia with his family in 1988.
He enlisted in the Australian Regular Army on 28 March 2005. After completing Recruit training he was allocated to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps. He was posted to the School of Infantry where he qualified as a rifleman after completing his Initial Employment Training on 9 September 2005.
He was posted to the 5/7th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment with effect 10 September 2005, where he fulfilled a number of junior soldier roles and qualified as a M113 Crewman Driver.
Corporal Hopkins deployed to Afghanistan on Operation Slipper within 1st Reconstruction Task Force from November 2006 to April 2007. His military decorations include the Australian Active Service Medal with International Coalition Against Terrorism (ICAT) clasp, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Medal and Infantry Combat Badge.
He remained with the 7th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment upon the delinking of both battalions and later qualified as a M113 Crewman Commander in November 2007. He was temporarily promoted to Lance Corporal in June 2007 and made substantive in April 2008. He was promoted to Corporal before his 21st birthday in August 2008.
Corporal Mathew Hopkins deployed to Afghanistan as a member of the Force Protection Combat Team (FPCT) known as Combat Team Tusk, serving with the 1st Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force. Corporal Hopkins was a Section Commander with FPCT.
His mates in the 7th Battalion described him as a very professional soldier, but always a bit of a larrikin having a joke when the chips were down. Corporal Hopkins was always keen to get the job done which gave his subordinates something to emulate. He was a good leader and a good mate who would go out of his way to provide any assistance within his capacity.
Mathew was an approachable bloke with a genuine caring attitude for his soldiers. He upheld the Army values as a source of inspiration particularly courage and mateship. He was a soldier who led from the front, never from the rear and always looked out for his mates and most certainly for his soldiers. He was a keen sports player; he particularly enjoyed rugby within the Battalion and the competition within the Brigade.
Mathew was recently married to Victoria and was present during the birth of their son, Alexander.
Statement from Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston
Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, extended his deepest condolences to the family and friends of Corporal Hopkins.
“Our hearts go out to Mathew’s family during this very sad time. We will do everything we can to support them as they deal with their terrible loss.
“Mathew was a fine, professional and courageous soldier. He died while serving his nation and his sacrifice should never be forgotten” he said.