Oh, hey there my fellow ‘Muricans!
I was born and raised in Virginia. Attended C.D. Hylton HS in Woodbridge, VA. I graduated from Christopher Newport University, earning a BA in English, majoring in interpersonal communications studies.
I enlisted in the army as a scout to do the whole “pew, pew, pew” thing for 6 years, doing 27 months in Iraq. Then I ventured into the mystical world of independent security contracting overseas and learned that being “contractor rich” is very temporary.
While contracting, I met my now baby momma, Alex, and we got hitched. Love, love, love.
I’ve been able to give back as I created Operation Charlie Mike in 2014 and hiked all 2,185 miles of the Appalachian Trail in 3 ½ months, spanning 14 states from Maine to Georgia, averaging 22 miles a day. I created an interactive website, raised awareness along the way and raised $7,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project in honor of my brethren and the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund in honor of my Mom.
I wrote my first book, The Funny Side of War, in 2015 and released it on Amazon. It shows the lighter side of war we don’t often see in movies and other books. I prefer to bring smiles rather than the shock and awe of being a "Billy Badass."
I hope this project helps people that are looking for guidance or inspiration in dealing with their own traumatic events throughout life.
I currently reside in Virgina where my beautiful wife and I anxiously await our first child’s arrival this summer!
AN EXCERPT FROM MAT'S STORY
"Mat, can you help me carry your Mom into the car? I need to get her to the hospital."
I jumped out of bed and ran downstairs to get my Mom into the car. She had been fighting cancer for 9 years and sustained more pain and agony than anyone I've ever known. She never complained. Dad told me he would call when the doctors figured out how serious it was this time. Mom rolled down the window of the car as I looked at her from inside the garage thinking this might be it.
"I love you, Mom," I said with a quivering smile.
"I love you, Matty," she responded in the same manner.
It was the last time our eyes met as we spoke. She fought through Christmas day, passing away at 7am on December 26, 2003, with her loving husband and two kids holding her. A friend of the family, Marine General George Flynn, who lost his Mom around the same age, told me the hard truth as I tried to grasp the emotions with, "It's a hole in your heart that will never be filled."
After training in the cold rains of the Pacific Northwest, I headed to the dry desert terrain of Iraq in 118 degrees. This place was death. An unforgiving environment that brought sweat soaking through my boots to the ground where it dried instantly. When I finally dried off, my uniform crunched with my own body salt crumbling off. The smell. I will never forget the smell. It was the smell of human beings taking on the carnal actions of animals. We saw dead bodies on a very consistent basis lying around… just because.
"The Surge" was complete madness. If insurgents, militia or terrorists weren't attacking us, they were attacking each other. They captured for ransom, or tortured and killed all because of a different sect of the same religion. Iraqi people that lost family or had to kill simply used, "Insha’Allah," (If Allah wills it) as the excuse or reasoning. We experienced ambushes, IED’s, RPG’s, grenades, complex ambushes and getting caught in the crossfire of sectarian violence as we had to shoot at both sides. We had to make split second decisions that could ruin lives if we chose wrong. Bullets snapped all around us. How were we alive after being so close to death so many times?