SAN DIEGO — Vice Adm. Scott Conn, commander, U.S. Third Fleet, presented the Silver Star Medal for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action to Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician Matthew J. O’Connor during an award presentation held onboard Naval Base Point Loma, San Diego, California, Feb. 13.
As a member of EOD Mobile Unit (EODMU) 11, O’Connor was deployed in April 2019 with a Special Operations Task Force in support of Operation Inherent Resolve when his team maneuvered into an enemy-held village and assaulted a facility known to be producing improvised explosive devices.
After his team came under enemy fire, O’Connor exposed himself in order to carry a wounded teammate to cover where he subsequently rendered lifesaving medical treatment and coordinated suppressive fire. O’Connor exposed himself a second time to retrieve a wounded U.S. linguist. After moving the linguist to safety and carrying his first teammate through enemy fire and difficult terrain to the casualty collection point, O’Connor returned to the target area, conducted post assault procedures, and guided the remaining combined task force through terrain laden with improvised explosive devices.
“Adversity under fire doesn’t test one’s character, it reveals it,” said Conn. “Chief O’Connor revealed that day that his character, choices, and actions clearly warrant the recognition afforded by a Silver Star.”
O’Connor, originally from Bellingham, Washington, said, “I am honored to receive the Silver Star and appreciate the recognition; 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.”
As one of their primary mission areas, Navy EOD supports U.S. special operations forces against the threat of explosives, enabling access and freedom of maneuver on the battlefield and at sea. The community’s unique combination of military free fall, dive and advanced expeditionary combat skills training ensures Navy EOD technicians can infiltrate and operate in any environment.
“I am extremely proud of Chief O’Connor for his bravery and commitment to the Navy EOD mission,” said Capt. Oscar Rojas, commodore, 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.”
EODMU11 provides operational EOD capabilities to include locating, identifying, rendering safe, exploiting, recovering, and disposing of all explosive ordnance, including chemical and nuclear weapons, while providing access for conventional and special operations forces to maneuver across the full range of military operations.
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.