Medal of Honor recipient: America worth dying for because freedo - FOX34 Lubbock

Medal of Honor recipient: America worth dying for because freedom can be so easily taken away

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

The American way of life is worth dying for because it can be so easily taken away, a Medal of Honor recipient told listeners during a virtual webinar Tuesday.

Army Sergeant Major Matthew Williams served in the Special Forces during the Global War on Terror. Last year, President Trump awarded him the nation's highest honor for gallantry during the Battle of the Shok Valley in 2008. 

During "Operation: Commando Wrath," insurgent fighters ambushed his detachment, pinning it down with machine guns and RPGs. Williams led Afghan commandos in defending the Green Berets' position, treated wounded soldiers, and led a counterattack against the insurgents.

Under enemy fire, then-Sergeant Williams pulled wounded soldiers down a mountainside, re-established communication lines, and led a second counterattack to push back insurgency forces to give American helicopters time to arrive and evacuate the wounded.

The Army's website summarizes Sgt. Williams' gallantry, noting his actions "exemplify leadership under fire. His ability to take initiative, successfully command troops pinned down in an ambush, and disregard his own safety to protect his commandos and fellow Soldiers saved numerous lives and prevented his element from being overrun."

On Tuesday, Sgt. Maj. Williams spoke to the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, sharing his story of growing up in Boerne, Texas, going to college at Angelo State, and ultimately joining the Army. Sgt. Maj. Williams enlisted after 9/11, trading his criminal justice major for a Special Forces patch. 

"That kind of changed things for all of us," he said, "for my generation, specifically. It shifted our focus."

As a Green Beret, Sgt. Maj. Williams said his role was as a force multiplier -- training and arming foreign forces to fight for themselves. He said that resonated with him. 

Sgt. Maj. Williams hearkened back to President Reagan, saying each generation must pass down and fight for American ideals because they can be so easily taken away.

"Everything we [the Special Forces] do is with the intent of maintaining our way of life and our freedoms," he said on the Zoom call Tuesday. "The brotherhood that you build within the organization just makes you believe that even more. It really kind of ties everything together. It takes you out of your little small town where everybody is from Boerne, Texas, and they all think the same as you and opens up your eyes to what is actually out there, what the country actually consists of.

"What you find," he continued, "is it consists of people willing to lay down their life for our country from everywhere you look. I think the reason behind that is because we all know and understand -- especially those of us who are exposed to other ways of life -- that our way of life is the best one and it's ultimately worth fighting for. It's easy to see freedom being taken for granted but it's a hard thing to understand that it's something that can be lost."

Sgt. Maj. Williams now resides in North Carolina with his wife and son.

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