“If you are on his team, you are going to have a good day.” –Anonymous
CAPTAIN MATTHEW PATRICK MANOUKIAN
Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian was born on February 22, 1983 in Seal Beach, California to Socrates Peter Manoukian and Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian. He grew up in Seal Beach, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills with his younger brothers Michael and Martin. Matthew graduated from St. Nicholas Grammar School in Los Altos Hills (Class of 1997), St. Francis High School in Mountain View (Class of 2001), and the University of Arizona (Class of 2005) with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and a minor in Sociology.
Matthew decided to join the United States Marine Corps when he was seven years old and he never waivered from this goal. Matthew enjoyed fishing, boating, hiking, football, basketball, soccer, baseball, weight lifting, running, traveling, history, politics, playing military games and sports with his brothers and spending time with his family. He was an outstanding, strong and tough defensive tackle on the Lancer Football Team at Saint Francis High School. Matthew attended the University of Arizona where he studied political science and sociology. He attempted to enlist in the United States Marine Corps immediately after the events of September 11, 2001. However, a spinal cord surgery and a surgery for a high school football injury to his knee delayed Matthew’s plans to enlist.
In January of 2006, following graduation from the University of Arizona, Matthew entered the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia. In March of 2006, he graduated and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. Matthew graduated from The Basic School in October of 2006 and from The Infantry Officers Course in December of 2006. In January of 2007 Matthew reported to 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment at Camp Pendleton where he served as a Rifle Platoon Commander. Matthew organized a rigorous training program for his platoon and always demonstrated great commitment and dedication to his Marines.
While preparing for his first deployment at Camp Pendleton, Matthew became a voracious student of history and political science. He became a student of Pax Americana, a concept holding that world peace could be achieved either by one worldwide dominant superpower or by achieving universal democracy. Matthew also began a dedicated process of studying the history and cultures of the Middle East. He learned to speak Arabic. He also learned that the secret to succeeding in the Middle East was to show respect and trust to the local population and culture and to treat all as equals.
In April of 2007, he deployed for his first tour of duty to the town of Anah, Al-Anbar Province in Western Iraq. He served as a Mobile Assault Platoon Commander in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Matthew believed that the Marines could communicate with the locals more effectively on foot than in Humvees, so he increased the number of foot patrols. Over the course of his seven month deployment, the Marines focused on the creation of a local police force in order to bring security to the area. A police force was established and an Iraqi Judge was appointed to the District Center. As security increased and the rule of law was established, markets and bazaars opened, and children went back to school. Local development projects commenced. During this tour, Matthew was injured by a roadside Improvised Explosive Device and suffered a concussion. Despite his injury, he was able to help place a tourniquet on the bleeding leg of a comrade and helped to save his life. Matthew was evacuated to Al-Asad Air Force Base. He insisted that he return to his Marines as soon as he was cleared for duty. Upon his return to Camp Pendleton, Matthew served for a short time as the Company Executive Officer.
In August of 2008, serving as a First Lieutenant, Matthew deployed to Al-Anbar Province, Waleed, Iraq with a Military Transition Team. Matthew served as the team’s Operations Officer and Senior Tactical Advisor. He was responsible for coordinating, planning and training the Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement’s Brigade Headquarters. Matthew’s team worked with local Iraqi authorities to secure the western border with Syria, a country in which his paternal grandfather had lived for 15 years. Matthew was amazed to see the progress that had been accomplished between his two tours. There were police officers in most of the villages and there were local representatives who worked in a legal capacity to settle grievances between families, prosecute criminals and enforce laws. Matthew was proud to have played a role in that transformation. He helped to establish the rule of law and to facilitate and increase trade and commerce. The Marines and the Iraqis also successfully worked together to rebuild and open schools, police departments and courthouses.
After his return home in February of 2009, Matthew volunteered to attend the Assessment and Selection screening for the Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC) at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Matthew finished among the top of the Marines who entered the program and graduated in February of 2010. Matthew was promoted to the rank of Captain on April 1, 2010.
After completing MARSOC training, Matthew was assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion located at Camp Pendleton. In August of 2010 Matthew deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He served as a Team Commander in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. When Matthew and his team arrived in the Sangin District in Afghanistan, there was no judicial system and no local authorities to enforce the laws. Matthew and his team worked with the local leaders and the District Governor to establish a local police force and to bring law and justice to the area. The villagers in the area had no hope. If they did not work for the insurgents, they would be killed. If they reported the names of the insurgents, there was no Afghani legal system in place to prosecute and punish the insurgents. Matthew and his team significantly improved security and living conditions in the area. They mentored, trained and developed the Afghan Security Guard Force and worked to unify local village leadership with district level governance.
When Matthew returned home in April of 2011, he said that his work with MARSOC to help establish security and the rule of law in Afghanistan made him realize the great importance of a fair legal system in order for society to function. Matthew decided to apply to law school in order to help his community and to help society. He continued with his MARSOC training and wanted to return to Afghanistan again with his team to resume the work he had been doing in the villages.
In May of 2012 Matthew deployed again with Charlie Company, 1st MSOB to Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He served as the Team Commander for MSOT 8133 and was assigned to Village Stability Platform (VSP) Puzeh in the Upper Sangin River Valley of the Helmand Province. Matthew and his team were charged with the responsibility of improving security in the Upper Sangin River Valley, training and mentoring Afghan Local Police, Afghan Uniformed Police and one infantry battalion from the Afghan National Guard, and transitioning security to full Afghan control.
On 4 August 2012, a newspaper article published in the San Diego Union Tribune described the remarkable efforts of Matthew’s team and the great success of the Military’s Village Stabilization Operation in Puzeh in which special operators from all services participate. The special operations forces arm and train local governments against Taliban infiltration as well as build infrastructure and establish local police departments and judicial systems. In Puzeh, Matthew learned to speak Pashtu, he fasted during the religious holidays, and he worked closely with the villagers. He always showed great respect for the Afghan people and their culture as he and his team worked to help bring security, hope and freedom to the area. Matthew’s team made significant progress in stabilizing the area around Puzeh in the Sangin District of Helmand Province, training security forces, institutionalizing the beginnings of law and order, developing strong relationships with the people and working to unify local tribal leadership with district level governance.
On 10 August 2012 Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian was killed in combat in Afghanistan.
Matthew was a stellar and dedicated Marine, an exemplary leader, and a dearly beloved son and brother and friend. Matthew touched the lives of so many in Seal Beach, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, California, the United States, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Matthew was dedicated to service of his Country and his Marines. He was always beside his Marines – always leading, helping and supporting them. Matthew and his outstanding Marines worked tirelessly and with great dedication to help the people of Iraq and Afghanistan attain peace, justice and freedom. Matthew received many Medals, Awards, Ribbons and Commendations including two Purple Hearts, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, Combat Action Ribbon with one gold star, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon with one bronze star, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two bronze stars, Iraq Campaign Medal with two bronze stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with three bronze stars, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal. Matthew completed the Marine Corps Special Operations Forces Leaders Course, the MARSOC Field Intelligence Course, the Basic Airborne Course, was awarded Rifle Expert and Pistol Expert Badges, and was a Black Belt 1st Degree. Matthew was most humble and he never talked about his accomplishments or awards.
Matthew was admitted to law school and planned to begin his legal studies at Golden Gate University School of Law in August of 2013. In his personal statement, Matthew indicated that he believed in constant self-development and improvement and actively sought out new challenges. Matthew stated that because he had witnessed what a lack of order and chaos can do to good people, to their society, and to their way of life, he wanted to enter the field of law to be better able to help, contribute to and work for the good of the group, the good of the community and the betterment of society.
On December 13, 2012, Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian was posthumously awarded the Stanley Mosk Defender of Justice Award on behalf of the armed forces members he represents and for his sacrifice to the cause of justice by the Judicial Council of California.
On June 6, 2013, Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian was posthumously awarded the 2012 Major Douglas A. Zembiec Award for Outstanding Leadership in the United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command.
In 2013, the Orange County Public Law Center dedicated its Operation Veterans Re-Entry Program to Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian. This important new outreach program honors the heroism of our military, involves many veterans groups and is dedicated to providing Orange County veterans and their families with free legal services to facilitate their successful re-entry into civilian life.
On August 8, 2013, The Ceremony Room at the San Jose Military Entrance Processing Station was dedicated to Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian. The Ceremony Room is the last processing step for applicants entering all branches of service in the United States Armed Forces. The United States Marine Corps, United States Army, United States Navy, United States Air Force and United States Coast Guard are represented in The Ceremony Room with their flag and emblem. Each year thousands of young men and women are sworn into the United States Armed Forces in The Ceremony Room. The applicants raise their right hands and recite the Oath of Enlistment:
“I, (state your full name), do solemnly swear or affirm that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian walked through “Freedom’s Front Door” at the San Jose Military Entrance Processing Station, qualified to enlist in the United States Marine Corps, and recited his Oath of Enlistment in The Ceremony Room that is now dedicated in his honor and in honor of all service members who proudly and courageously serve and protect their country. May all who pass through the doors of The Ceremony Room and recite the Oath of Enlistment be inspired by Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian’s courage, bravery, leadership, commitment, strength, heroism and sacrifice.
On October 8, 2013, the Lee and Penny Anderson Defenders Lodge in Palo Alto opened with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and a Grand Dinner. The Defenders Lodge is dedicated to our Veterans and will provide free lodging and services to Veterans and their caregivers while they are receiving care at the Veterans Hospital. Mary Ellen and Michael E. Fox Sr. generously donated $50,000 to dedicate a room at the Defenders Lodge in honor of Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian. May all who stay in this room at the Defenders Lodge be inspired by the story of a young boy who became a Marine and an American Hero. May they also be inspired by the generosity, kindness and goodness of Mary Ellen and Michael E. Fox Sr.
Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian loved his Country. He loved his family. He loved his Marines. He loved serving in the United States Marine Corps Forces. He was an amazing and exceptional Marine, an exemplary and inspirational leader, an extraordinarily strong man of character and courage, and he possessed a kind and compassionate heart. Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian was a dearly beloved son, brother, friend, warrior and hero.
Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian will never be forgotten and his “sacrifice will live on forever in the hearts of all who cherish freedom.”
The Manoukian Family