Matthews, 44, spoke Tuesday as a part of a Sept. 11 program and the school's Professional Forum series. He shared about his experiences in Afghanistan and the U.S. Army Reserve in general.
Matthews deployed in May 2011, his first overseas deployment in a 20-plus year military career.
Matthews said that the Army Reserve and its requirements have changed since the late 1980s when he joined. Then, soldiers had one weekend a month drills, two weeks in the summer and could sometimes go their entire career without being called up for duty.
Today, that's not the case, he said. Because of the Sept. 11 attacks and the two wars that followed, reservists have been called up more frequently. However, he said, the benefits are many.
“A lot of people don't understand you can have two careers,” he said.
Matthews is a patrol officer with the Tyler Police Department. He cannot be a detective or a SWAT team member because he needs the flexibility to leave when duty calls.
“What (the Army) says goes,” he said even if that means missing an important event with his family. “Me being in a leadership position, I can't not go and expect my soldiers to go.”
As a provost marshal, Matthews oversaw military police operations for the Joint Sustainment Command. Work days typically started with a 6 a.m. wake-up call and ended by 9 p.m.
He regularly reviewed the blotter report for the entire Afghanistan theater looking for trends.
He then made policy and procedure recommendations that might address problem areas.
An example would be when they had an issue with Humvees and trucks getting stolen.
He also coordinated military police operations, setup physical security policies and handled other security details.
A place called the boardwalk featured stores where soldiers could purchase whatever they needed.
Matthews said most items were expensive compared with U.S. prices. T.G.I. Friday's and KFC were some of the American restaurant options available to the soldiers. Visits from the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Robin Williams and Toby Keith were some of the entertainment highlights.
Still, it was a war zone and that reality hit home every time there was a rocket attack. Matthews said the post — which had about 20,000 people on it — dealt with rocket attacks up to seven times a day. However, they also went weeks without an attack.
In one video he showed, soldiers can be seen lying face down in what appears to be the mess hall as an alarm sounds and an automated voice repeats “rocket attack” over the loud speaker.
Matthews said because the rockets were in poor condition, sometimes they would hit something and not detonate. He said on one occasion a rocket hit a soldier in the chest breaking his rifle and cracking ribs but failing to explode.
Bishop Gorman eighth-grader Elizabeth Danly, 14, said Matthew's message was interesting and eye-opening.
“They're out there and there (are) rocket attacks six to seven times a day,” she said. “Some of us couldn't begin to imagine that.”
Eighth-grader Rebecca Ruesewald, 13, said the message was inspiring.
“It made me realize that that's a big job, that being in the Army and a police officer is a big deal,” she said. “And you can save people's lives while risking your own.”
At the conclusion of his message, Matthews presented student body president Sara Hicks with a framed flag and certificate.
The flag was flown on behalf of Bishop Gorman during Operation Enduring Freedom, Joint Sustainment Command in Afghanistan.