Avalon Native Who Joined Navy After 9/11 Now a Lt. Commander
Class Vanessa C. Behrend
Avalon native Michael Matt says he decided it was his obligation to become a Navy sailor and protect the country after the events of September 11, 2001.
Now a Lieutenant Commander, Michael Matt is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard a ship built using steel from the World Trade Center.
Matt was a freshman at Villanova University in the Navy ROTC on 9/11.
“I joined to travel and see the world,” said Matt. “After 9/11, that solidified my reason for joining the Navy and made me understand my position as a Navy sailor could help protect the country, and that was my obligation to do it.”
According to Matt, the values required to succeed in the military are similar to those found in Avalon.
"Growing up in a military family made me understand from a young age that each of us has obligations to the country and when willingly taking on, it will allow our country to stay safe,” said Matt.
USS New York’s bow is forged from steel salvaged from the wreckage of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack. According to Navy officials, the Navy's 9/11 namesake ships uphold the virtues of service, sacrifice, and selflessness that have always been the source of America's strength.
"It is an honor and privilege to carry on the legacy of the selfless heroes and unwilling victims of the 9/11 attacks,” said the commanding officer of USS New York, Capt. Javier Gonzalez. “Our ship embodies the fighting passion that united Americans, despite an inconceivable tragedy, to defend our country's values and continue the pursuit of freedom worldwide."
New York is designed to deliver Marines and their equipment where they are needed to support a variety of missions ranging from beach assaults to humanitarian relief efforts.
Homeported in Norfolk, Virginia, New York is longer than two football fields at 684 feet. The ship is 105 feet wide and weighs more than 24,000 tons. It has four diesel engines that can push the ship through the water in excess of 26 mph.
Serving in the Navy means Matt is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances, and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
“I had a number of friends in college who throughout the years were personally impacted by the 9/11 attacks in both New York and Washington, D.C.,” added Matt, “Serving aboard this ship allows me to bring a piece of them with me every day when I come to work. The fact that steel from the WTC is embedded in the keel of this ship is a physical tangible reminder that when put to sea, the U.S. has the ability to recover from any attack and will bring that fight to the enemy.”