Detail

USD Alumnus Appointed Secretary of American Battle Monuments Commission

Retired Army Maj. Gen. William M. Matz Jr., a 1973 University of San Diego master’s degree recipient, had his official swearing-in ceremony Tuesday as the new Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission. Matz, who had been nominated in December and was formally appointed by U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday, was sworn in by Deputy Secretary Robert J. Dalessandro in Washington D.C.

Established by Congress in 1923, the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) commemorates the service, achievements, and sacrifice of U.S. armed forces. ABMC administers, operates and maintains 26 permanent American military cemeteries and 29 federal memorial, monuments and markers, which are located in 16 foreign countries, the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the British Dependency of Gibraltar. Three memorials are located within the United States, including one in San Francisco. These cemeteries and memorials, most of which commemorate the service and sacrifice of Americans who served in World War I and World War II, are among the most beautiful and meticulously maintained shrines in the world.

“This job, I do not look at it as a job; it is a wonderful honor,” Matz said on Tuesday. “To be part of the sole organization in the government for overseeing and maintaining these cemeteries and monuments is a great honor. I could not have asked for anything better.”

Matz’s appointment by Trump marks the second time a sitting U.S. President has appointed Matz to a role. President George W. Bush named him to the Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission in 2005. Monday’s appointment came alongside other AMBC appointments by President Trump: Jennifer Sandra Carroll, Dorothy Gray, Thomas O. Hicks, John P. McGoff, Luis Rodolfo Quinonez, Evans C. Spiceland, and Robert O. Wefald as new ABMC commissioners, effective immediately.

Matz is the second USD alumnus to serve under current President Trump. Ryan Zinke, a 2004 graduate of USD’s Master of Science in Global Leadership program and most recently a U.S. Congressman in Montana, has served as Trump’s Secretary of the Interior since 2017.

Matz, who lives in Virginia, will work in Arlington, Va., but he will also visit offices in Paris, France, and Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. He is scheduled to travel to Paris later this month to meet with ABMC official. There are 25 cemeteries and memorial markers in France. A trip to the Philippines has not yet been scheduled.

This new position continues Matz’s long history of service to his country. Matz is a combat veteran with a distinguished military career spanning four decades. As an infantryman, he served in Korea, Panama and as a company commander with the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam. A graduate of the Army’s ranger school, Matz served in the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions and was executive secretary to two Secretaries of Defense. He also served two years with the Navy/Marine amphibious force during the Vietnam War and deployed with the 7th Infantry Division to Panama during Operation Just Cause in 1989. Matz’s combat decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart.

Upon retirement from the Army, Matz worked eight years in the defense industry. First, with Raytheon as vice president, Army Programs and later, as general manager for Northrop Grumman’s Saudi Arabian National Guard Modernization Program in Saudi Arabia. For seven years, he served as president of the National Association for Uniformed Services. He has served on the board of directors at the Eisenhower Institute and was self-employed as a military/veteran consultant prior to his December nomination.

William Matz '73

Secretary Matz earned his BA in Political Science at Gettysburg College, an MA in International Relations from the University of San Diego, and is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College and Harvard University’s senior executives in government course. Matz and his wife, Linda, have three grown children and several grandchildren.

Matz has been back to the USD campus a few times in recent years. In 2016, he was the College of Arts and Sciences’ Author E. Hughes Career Achievement Award recipient at its annual Alumni Honors program. A day prior to receiving his award, he spoke to an audience of USD undergraduate and graduate political science and international relations students about his experiences. Just this past November 11, Matz served as honorary chairman for the USD Founders Gala which had a decidedly military theme. Held on Veterans Day, the event attracted more than 600 attendees, including student, retired and current military, and the university raised $800,000 in general scholarship support and an additional $500,000 to establish a new endowed scholarship fund for student veterans.

He’s eager to continue to serve his country by working to maintain the honor of his fellow men and women who’ve served, too. One of the major events ahead, Matz said, is that the ABMC will be involved with numerous commemoration events surrounding the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I (Nov. 11, 1918) on Nov. 11, 2018.

— Ryan T. Blystone

Video courtesy of USD Alumni Honors

William Matz's oath photo courtesy of ABMC

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