Soldier Honored: Matthew D. Roland
Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Branch of Service: Air Force
Air Force Captain Matthew D. Roland of Lexington, Kentucky was assigned to the 23rd Special Tactic Squadron of Hurlburt Field, Florida and served under Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. On August 26, 2015, Captain Roland was leading a convoy of Special Operations team members to a forward base, as part of NATO’s Operation Resolute Support, when Afghan National Defense and Security Force individuals opened fired at a checkpoint in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He gave his last full measure protecting his teammates’ lives by moving the bus to shield vehicle occupants. Cpt. Roland put himself in the line of fire, initiated a radio call to the convoy, and allowed them time to react to the threat. He was 27 years old, and two weeks away from completing his third deployment in five years of military service. A fellow soldier was also killed in the attack.
Cpt. Roland graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering. He was then selected to attend Special Tactics Officer training where he earned the red beret in June 2012. His father, a retired Colonel, recalls, “Every time he left on an operation he had that folded American flag with him. Matthew was a Patriot.”