Lexington native killed in Afghanistan receives Silver Star

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (AFNS/WTVQ) – Air Force Captain and Lexington native Matthew Roland, killed in Afghanistan during an attack at a checkpoint on August 26, has posthumously received the Silver Star.

Roland’s actions during the surprise attack gave his special operations teammates time to eliminate the threat, while sacrificing his own life.

Family and friends attended a medal ceremony on June 1 at Hurlburt Field in Florida.

Matthew D. Roland

The family of Capt. Matthew D. Roland, a special tactics officer killed in action, was presented his posthumous Silver Star medal by Lt. Gen. Brad Heithold, the commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla., June 1, 2016. Roland died protecting his teammates during an ambush on their convoy at an Afghan-led security checkpoint near Camp Antonik, Afghanistan, Aug. 26, 2015. The Silver Star medal is the nation’s third-highest valorous combat decoration. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ryan Conroy)

“This is about recognizing the gallantry of one of our Airmen,” said Lt. Gen. Brad Heithold, the commander of Air Force Special Operations Command and officiator of the ceremony. “In the face of the enemy, some people cower down, and some people step up. Actions like this take a lot of courage, poured on top of sacrifice, poured on top of intense training.”

Roland had two weeks left before he was due home from his third deployment.

Roland was trained as a military static line jumper, free fall jumper, an Air Force combat scuba diver, and a joint terminal attack controller. He deployed twice to Afghanistan and once to Africa.

Capt. Matthew D. Roland

Capt. Matthew D. Roland (U.S. Air Force photo)

He was a decorated veteran, earning the Bronze Star medal with Valor. With this Silver Star medal, he now joins an elite group of more than 70 Airmen who received the nation’s third highest medal for gallantry in action since 9/11.

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