Avalon native Michael Matt says he decided it was his obligation to become a Navy sailor and protect the country after the events of Sept 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.

“It's a remembrance of a shared tragedy that we, as Americans, have all experienced,” said Matt. “It’s an acknowledgment of the sacrifices that so many have borne over the last 20 years.”

Matt joined the Navy 15 ago.

“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.

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“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.

“The Navy is our first line of defense, we deploy ships and aircraft in both peacetime and wartime,” said Matt, “The Navy is what allows our country to be positioned and ready to respond when our nation calls.”
With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States are directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Matt and other New York sailors are proud to be part of a warfighting team that embodies the spirit, strength, and resilience of the American people.

“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.”

Source: Navy Office of Community Outreach

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