A Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) operator received the Silver Star for his actions in Iraq against Islamic State (ISIS) fighters.

In April 2019, Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician Matthew J. O’Connor was attached to a Navy SEAL platoon as part of a Special Operations Task Force in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

On the day of the engagement, which earned him the nation’s third-highest award for valor in combat, Chief O’Connor and his element was conducting an operation against a village occupied by ISIS fighters where an Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) factory was located.

During their assault, they came under enemy fire and a SEAL operator was wounded. Chief O’Connor exposed himself and carried the wounded SEAL to cover through enemy fire. He then proceeded to provide life-saving medical care. However, another American was wounded (a linguist also attached to the SEAL platoon). Chief O’Connor once more exposed himself to retrieve the second man Wounded in Action (WIA). He then carried the wounded SEAL to the casualty collection point (CCP) before going back to assist in post-assault actions (for example, Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE). Chief O’Connor subsequently led the U.S. element through the IED-laden village to safety.

“Adversity under fire doesn’t test one’s character, it reveals it,” said Vice Admiral Scott Conn, the commander of the U.S. Third Fleet. “Chief O’Connor revealed that day that his character, choices, and actions clearly warrant the recognition afforded by a Silver Star.”

Although not part of Naval Special Warfare (NSW), which is comprised of SEALs and Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen (SWCC), Navy EOD is considered Special Operations. They are most often deployed as attachments to Navy SEAL platoons. And they get to attend numerous high-speed schools (for instance, the Military Freefall and combat diver schools).

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Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Matt O’Connor, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 11, stands at attention alongside Vice Adm. Scott D. Conn, commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet (C3F) after being awarded the Silver Star Medal during an awards ceremony held at the C3F headquarters. The Silver Star is the third-highest military combat decoration that can be awarded to a member of the United States Armed Forces. U.S. Navy EOD is the world’s premier combat force for eliminating explosive threats so the Fleet and Nation can fight and win whenever, wherever. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey S. Trietsch)

“I am extremely proud of Chief O’Connor for his bravery and commitment to the Navy EOD mission,” said Captain Oscar Rojas, the commodore of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One. “His actions in combat demonstrate the culture of operational excellence that our entire community drives towards every day in order to defend America and the American way of life.”

“I am honored to receive the Silver Star and appreciate the recognition,” said Chief O’Connor. “However, I want people to know that it took a whole group of guys to ensure everyone returned safely. I was not the only one out there, and this is reflective of a team effort.”