A New Appreciation for Memorial Day

CPT Matt Jalandoni_2_Resized— A reflection by Matt Jalandoni ’10US Army judge advocate

After graduating from UW Law School in 2010, I was commissioned into active duty in the US Army JAG Corps and was stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Over the last four years, my duties have included providing legal-assistance services to soldiers and their families, running the base’s Tax Preparation Center, and prosecuting murder, sexual assault, larceny, and desertion cases.

Last April, I had the opportunity to do what every soldier is prepared for: deploy to a combat zone. In my case, it was to Afghanistan as an administrative law attorney for the Third Expeditionary Sustainment Command.

Being deployed in Afghanistan over Memorial Day gave me a whole new appreciation for what the holiday is truly about. I began the day in Kabul, in the building named after Lieutenant Mike Murphy, the Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor winner. Later, I took a helicopter flight to Bagram Airfield to visit the Pat Tillman Memorial. While those are two of the more famous names of fallen heroes, we have lost more than 2,300 Americans in the last thirteen years in Afghanistan and more than 4,400 in Iraq.

Even from the air, you can see the difficult terrain and environment that our soldiers operate in here. While my duties are far less difficult and dangerous than those on the front lines, just being in this country gives me a new appreciation for the sacrifices that other soldiers have made. I am proud to serve and join the ranks of veterans who have attended UW Law School.