Omaha-born airman killed in N.D. shooting was leader, mentor and volunteer

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Hullman

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Hullman spent much of what would have been his free time as a volunteer on funeral details.

Stationed at Columbus Air Force Base from 2004 to 2009, he spent many a weekend on the back highways of eastern Mississippi and western Alabama, leading Air Force honor guards for veterans who had died.

He also served as a mentor to the junior airmen on the detail, said Col. Paul Nelson, one of Hullman's commanders there.

“He was always the guy who was raising his hand to say, 'me first,'” Nelson said. “Any time there was a service member's funeral, he was on the road.”

Services will be held today for Hullman, 36, in Shenandoah, Iowa. Hullman died July 21 in a shooting on Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, where he was stationed.

The Air Force's Office of Special Investigations is handling the case. The base has not released details of the shooting.

Hullman was born in Omaha and lived there until about age 14, when he moved with his mother and stepfather to England.

Hullman graduated from high school in San Antonio, Texas, but spent many summers with his father, Bruce, in Shenandoah.

“He could keep a smile in any situation,” Bruce Hullman said Friday. “It just seemed to come natural to him.”

He enlisted in the Air Force after high school, eventually becoming a public health technician.

At Columbus, part of his job was organizing health inspections of various units on base. Instead of sending people out individually, he would lead inspectors from different disciplines, like public health and environmental engineering, in teams.

This resulted in a synergy that identified and solved problems better, Nelson said. It was recognized as a “best practice” by the Air Force.

“It leveraged the unique capabilities that each member of the team brought,” Nelson said. “It brought the strengths of each discipline together.”

Hullman deployed eight times during his career, recently returning from Bahrain. He was the divorced father of two children.

Nelson volunteered to escort Hullman's body back to Iowa for the funeral, which is at 10:30 a.m. at Kirsch Funeral Chapel, 405 W. Thomas Ave., in Shenandoah.

As the aircraft carrying his casket landed at Eppley Airfield, it was met by an Air Force honor guard, much like the ones Hullman trained and led at Columbus.

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