Navy SEAL from Shelby earns Silver Star


running up that hill
Jan 3, 2007
in Wonderland, with my Alice

Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Borders Roberts
Seal Team No. 10, Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, near Norfolk, Va.
SHS and N.C. State graduate, degree in English and Literature
Son of Bob and Bede Roberts and grandson of R.E. and Chancey Roberts, all of Shelby

SHELBY - Old high school friends might not recognize Matt Roberts, known then as a poet and musician with dredlocks and pierced ears.

The 36-year-old is now a decorated veteran Navy SEAL, extensively trained for special warfare and steeled to endure whatever dangers and hardships he may face.

Last fall, a life-threatening combat situation tested all that, and Roberts was awarded the Silver Star, the third-highest award available, for his actions in a ceremony in November.

Here's how his parents, Bob and Bede Roberts, relate the story:

It was September 2007, somewhere in Iraq, when members of SEAL Team 10 on a mission came under heavy AK47 fire.

One of Matt's fellow SEALs was wounded and ha d a broken leg. As Matt was pulling him to safety, Matt was h it in the right arm - he said he thought it took his arm off - then hit in the right calf. He kept on, but then he was hit in the right thigh and that brought him down.

A brother SEAL, Jay, then pulled Matt and two others to safety.

Jay, too, was awarded the Silver Star.

At first told his injuries would end his career, Matt persevered through his medical treatment, overcame a critical bacterial infection and endured rehab that would make most strong men faint, his dad said. The physical therapist who worked with him in Virginia Beach reported, "I don't know what this guy's made of. He'll break out in a cold sweat but never make a sound. Matt's recovery is complete and he'll be reassigned overseas again soon.

Contrary to the image "SEAL" portrays, these warriors that began as "frogmen" in World War II now train in all areas of combat. When Matt told his parents he wanted to join the Navy and become a SEAL, his dad said, "He told me, ‘I want to do something that will make a difference. I really think God calls me to be a warrior. If this is not what God wants me to do, it will be easy enough for him to stop me.'"

Matt reminded his father that King David was called to be a warrior (Psalm 144).

Of 239 men who started with Matt, only 19 rose to the full challenge and were tapped as SEALs.

"He really believes this is his calling," Bob Roberts said.

"They all do," his mother injected. "They are truly a different breed of people. And they are the most non-assuming group of men, a brotherhood, a family. They honor each other."

16 U.S. troops died when a MH-47D Chinook helicopter was shot down
while trying to reinforce a four-man SEAL reconnaissance team near Asadabad, Afghanistan,
in Kunar Province on June 28, 2005.
Eight of the dead were Navy SEALs. It was the largest single-day loss of life in the SEALs' history.
Except for a last-minute reassignment to a second helicopter,
Matt Roberts would have been among them


Matt Roberts of Shelby was surrounded by family and friends - including his nephew, Adam - on Nov. 21, the day he received his Silver Star for extraordinary valor. In a combat mission in Iraq, Roberts put himself in danger to save a fellow Navy SEAL.
Amazing story, amazing recovery. His faith is inspirational.