Matt Axelson: local war hero now remembered on Big Screen

Jan 13, 2014 5:54 PM

A Chico State grad's final moments are now being portrayed on the big screen with the release of "Lone Survivor.”

Matt Axelson was one of 19 Americans that died on June 28th, 2005, while fighting Taliban forces.

The most recent of which was The Talk....Cindy Oji is ready for the craziness to be over.

“I wanted to be available for certain events to show my support for Marcus, and Peter Berg, and all the actors and let them know we support the movie,” Oji said.

Oji is the widow of Matt Axelson, one of three Navy Seals that died in a vicious, outnumbered firefight with Taliban forces in the Afghanistan wilderness.

First came the book, Lone Survivor, then the movie.

Oji, who still lives in Chico, has seen the movie five times now.

“With the movie coming out, this is the first time a lot of people have heard the story and it's very new and raw and emotional for them,” Oji said.” “You have all these people coming at you with these emotions…so that's a little rough.”

Oji invited her friend, and Matt's college friend, Chris Kobz to the New York red carpet premiere.

It was a great movie in Kobz's mind, and an even better way to remember Matt.

“You see 20,000 people like something about him [on Facebook]. I think he would have hated that. He wouldn't have wanted that recognition, but it's just really great to see,” Kobz said.

It was the summer of 1999 at Chico State.

“[He was] just a lot of fun, super intelligent, really enjoyed being with his buddies more than anything,” Kobz said.

Kobz and Oji lived in a student housing complex off of West Sacramento. Matt was always over to see Kobz and friends.

“It was kind of like telling Chris, ‘Hey I kind of think he's cute,’ and them nudging him in the right direction,” Oji said.

Axelson was a Political Science major, history buff, avid reader, and maybe a little shy.

“I used to joke with him and tell him and say if I wasn't the aggressor, this probably wouldn't have happened,” Oji said.

Nevertheless, it happened. For their first date, the two had beers at The Grad.

Two weeks into dating, Cindy knew Matt was “the one.”

The next year, Matt entered the Navy.

“I said, ‘I will be here and support you as long as I can,’” Oji said.

In spring of 2005, Matt's deployed to Afghanistan.

Cindy didn't know much about what he was doing "over there.” On phone calls, Matt just wanted to hear about Cindy, family, and friends.

The last phone call woke Cindy up at 5am, on June 28th, 2005. Matt just wanted to let Cindy know he was “going to work for a couple days.”

Later that day, Matt died in the Kunar province of Afghanistan.

Cindy expected Matt back in California by her October birthday. She said the news of his death delayed the grieving process.

“You still have dreams, hope and wish they got it wrong, and he's going to come back. So it definitely took a long time for me to come to terms with everything,” Oji said.

Matt Axelson is buried at Glen Oaks Cemetery in Chico.

Lone Survivor took top honors at the box office this weekend, coming in at number one, earning $38.5 million. .5 million.


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