Capt. Matthew D. Roland, a U.S. Air Force Special Tactics officer, was posthumously awarded the Silver Star this week for his heroic actions in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. On August 26, 2015, Capt. Roland was in the lead vehicle in a convoy of U.S. Army Special Forces when it was attacked at the final Afghan-led security check point outside of Camp Antonik. He was able to notify the convoy of an ‘inside attack’ over the radio and put the vehicle in reverse prior to being fatally wounded by M4 fire. He did not hesitate in reacting to the immediate threat and in doing so gave his teammates enough time to react to the ambush. Staff Sgt. Forrest Sibley, Special Tactics combat controller, also died in the same incident.


The 24th Special Operations Wing has provided more details of Capt. Roland and his heroic actions:

Two guards, wearing Afghan National Defense and Security Forces uniforms, granted passage, but at that moment, one of the guards moved toward a bunker fortified with a belt-fed M240B machine gun, while the other moved toward Roland’s driver-side window.

As the guard came within five feet of Roland and raised his M4 Carbine rifle to his shoulder, Roland reacted instantly. He keyed radio to shout, “Insider attack, insider attack!” and jolted the bus into reverse. Gunfire ripped through the steel and glass of the bus’s front, taking the full effect of the M4 fire.

The 27-year-old Lexington, Ky. native was killed instantly, knowingly sacrificing himself in the line of fire to alert the convoy and to protect his teammates behind him. Because Roland did not hesitate in the face of danger, but instead reacted to protect others instead of himself, he gave his special operations teammates enough time to react and eliminate both gunmen.

Staff Sgt. Forrest Sibley, 31, Special Tactics combat controller, was also killed in the same incident.

Roland’s courageous actions, seconds before his death, are what led Roland’s family and friends to a small Silver Star medal ceremony in the 23 STS compound on Hurlburt Field nine months later.