FORT BLISS, TX - A U.S. Army infantry battalion commander received the Silver Star today for "gallantly carrying out his billet description to the letter" while deployed to Afghanistan last year, according to his award citation.
Lt. Col. Jimmy Matthews, currently assigned as the leader of 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, was honored to receive the nation's third-highest award for his actions during a year-long deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Lt. Col. Matthews' award was submitted by his higher brigade commander Col. Alan Johnson, based on a write-up he solicited from Lt. Col. Matthews.
"This really is something special, I have to say," said Matthews after his award presentation. "When the Colonel said he was putting me up for an award, I was completely shocked. I really had no idea. He originally put it in for the Medal of Honor, but this will certainly do."
As the leader of his unit, Matthews followed his job description to the tee. Unlike many of his colleagues who shamefully did more than their jobs required, Matthews "stuck to his guns", according to his summary of action -- putting together harrowing hour-long meetings, daringly supervising a Tactical Operations Center (TOC), and courageously mentoring his junior soldiers.
"The colonel definitely deserves this award more than anyone," said Capt. Steven Hendrix, a company commander in the battalion. "We had a lot of cases of soldiers going above and beyond their duties — really going way outside what their jobs were all about. But he really set the example."
An enlisted machine-gunner in the battalion agreed.
"I have three combat tours and have seen some really amazing things from my fellow soldiers," said Specialist James Bruster. "But I think they were all medal chasers. Luckily our higher-ups are really good at spotting these 'cowboys' and making sure they don't get anything. But the colonel — we know he's not looking for any recognition."
Bruster continued: "It really is a good thing that when you do your job exactly as required — the Army will reward you."
Another soldier in the battalion was still angered at the award being reduced.
"It's really a shame that he didn't get the Medal of Honor," said Sergeant Ian Wyland, a team leader who was recently awarded the Army Achievement Medal after being recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross. "Lt. Col. Matthews clearly did what was asked of him. The Army shouldn't shortchange him in return."
Matthews' wife Joanne also received the Outstanding Civilian Award and was meritoriously promoted to Chief Master Spouse.