Saluting Our Service Members: Military Spotlight

By The Major Brent Taylor Foundation

By Ann Park

Matt Longshaw

Matt Longshaw enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1983, where he served for six years. After ten years of civilian life, he spent seven years in the Air Force Reserve, and ten more years in the Air National Guard before retiring as a Master Sergeant in 2017.

During his military career, Matt served in locations all over the world including two deployments in the Middle East. “They were all extremely glamorous places,” he assures us. His time in the military gave him the opportunity to meet people of many nationalities and personalities. “I learned a lot about working with people.”

Matt served in three different branches of the armed forces. “The military is no different from the rest of society. There is lots of good, and a little bad, but usually the bad gets all the publicity,” Matt says. “But my experience in the military was a positive one.” He was able to participate in several humanitarian service projects. He was part of a group of soldiers that put a new roof on an orphanage in Thailand. “We worked hard to help the local people, and I’m glad we were able to do it.”

It was difficult to be away from family. “The men and women who serve in the military can’t do their job without the support of their families and their community. Whenever I was deployed, I knew my family back home would have the help they needed.”

Matt remembers serving on an aircraft carrier and it being one of the better experiences he had. “We worked a lot during our time on the ship, but there was nothing else to do, so that was all right.” He worked on the flight deck loading missiles onto the fighters. “Safety was always a big concern, and we were very careful.”

Their sea voyages sometimes included unexpected encounters. “One time our ship came across a group of Vietnamese refugees on their way to the Philippines, and their barge was sinking. We were able to help get them all safely on board our ship. I remember one woman gave birth while all this was going on. I’m glad we were there to help.”

He remembers another adventure when an axle broke on an A6 fighter jet coming in to land and its hook failed to catch. Under the direction of an experienced safety officer, the pilot circled and came around again. The second time they were able to use the barricade to bring the plane to a stop. Here’s a YouTube video of the incident:

Now retired from the military, Matt continues to support his family and community. “I love serving my country. I remember a quote from another veteran, when asked why we do what we do, he said, ‘because this country and our people are worth it,’ and I believe they are.”

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