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Wreaths laid at Boone County Fire headquarters in honor of Matt Tobben


The United States Exercise Tiger Foundation placed two wreaths at the Boone County Fire Protection District headquarters on Wednesday in honor of Assistant Chief Matt Tobben.

Tobben died on Monday during a water rescue in north Columbia. The rescue boat he was on lost power and overturned, throwing everyone into the water. Three people were able to be rescued, but Tobben never resurfaced.

His body was taken back to his hometown of Union, Missouri, during a procession on Tuesday.

USTF State and National Director Susan Haines said Tobben is a hero, risking his life to save others.

"It's an opportunity for us to thank them for going the extra mile, going above and beyond the call of duty," Haines said. "Matt, on Monday, went above and beyond. He gave his life so that others may live."

USTF presented a large wreath with artificial flowers and a photo of Tobben. Haines said veterans and first responders alike deserve to be recognized for their service.

"They put their life on the line every day when they put their uniform on to walk out and to serve their fellow man," Haines said.

The ceremony took place at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Boone County Fire Protection District headquarters.

Members of the Boone County Commission were also in attendance. Presiding Commissioner Kip Kendrick and Southern District Commissioner Justin Aldred presented a second wreath with real flowers.

"This is a time of tragedy for our community, for our first responders," Aldred said during the ceremony. "Times of tragedy may pass, but our remembrance of this ultimate sacrifice should not."

Retired minister Rev. Paula Ritchie also delivered a prayer at the ceremony. Around 20 people were in attendance.

Boone County Fire Assistant Chief Gale Blomenkamp said Wednesday's ceremony made him emotional thinking about Tobben and the kind of man he was. He said community support like this is important for the department.

"It helps us move forward," Blomenkamp said. "We have a job to do, and this job doesn't end because of the tragedy on Monday morning."

The Boone County Fire Protection District wrote on its social media Wednesday that a visitation will be held for Tobben from 3-8 p.m. Friday at Oltmann Funeral Home. The funeral will be 11 a.m. Saturday at East Central College in Union. The burial will be private.

The fire protection district wrote that it is jointly planning and coordinating services with the Union Fire Protection District and the Missouri Fire Service Funeral Assistance Team.

The Boone County Fire Protection District wrote that there will be a procession with a fire service apparatus and other public safety vehicles from the funeral home to East Central College.

Haines said USTF has designed a new medal that is set to be debuted in the next few weeks. It is a medal to recognize people who have served as firefighters and other rescuers. She said the first medal will be awarded to Tobben posthumously and given to his family.

Later this month on July 20, USTF will host its annual Operation SGT Rosies Lifejackets for Vets and Pets at Coopers Landing in honor of Tobben. The event will feature area fire departments with swiftwater rescue boats on display.

The statement said the event will be dedicated to Tobben's memory, and the USTF will also dedicate an emergency rescue device to Tobben that can be used by the public at Cooper's Landing.

Article Topic Follows: Boone

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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