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USD Alumnus and His Wife Honored for Service to Their Country, to USD and to Future Toreros

By Krystn Shrieve

Maj. Gen. William M. Matz '73 (MA)Maj. Gen. William M. Matz '73 (MA), was a career soldier who had served in Korea, Panama and as a company commander in the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam. He was wounded in action during the 1968 TET Offensive, which included simultaneous attacks on all U.S. military bases and 110 cities and towns in South Vietnam.

Four years later, Bill Matz was stationed in San Diego on joint assignment with the Navy, when he enrolled at the University of San Diego.

Bill and LindaIt was 1972. The nation was in transition, as the U.S. began withdrawing troops from the Vietnam War. The university was in transition also, because the San Diego College for Men and San Diego College for Women had just merged to form the University of San Diego. And Matz was in transition — attempting to earn a master's degree between two separate tours of duty in Vietnam, while raising three young children, ages 1, 2 and 4, with his wife, Linda.

In April 2016, Matz received USD's Hughes Career Achievement Award. Both he and Linda are active in USD's Washington, D.C., regional alumni group. In August, they hosted a Summer Sendoff event at their home, where they met incoming first-year students from D.C., Virginia and Maryland. Recently, they also made a planned gift to USD in the form of a charitable gift annuity, ensuring that future generations of students will have access to a USD education.

"It's a debt of gratitude," Matz says. "Forty years ago, USD accepted me, mentored me and taught me. And this is one way to repay the university for a wonderful academic and spiritual experience."

Matz says his USD education could not have come at a better time. The lessons he learned at USD served him well professionally. The university was just beginning to offer graduate programs and his master's degree in political science served him well throughout his military career, which earned him the Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star and a Purple Heart.

It also prepared him well for his subsequent work in the defense industry, as vice president of Army programs at Raytheon and then as general manager for Northrop Grumman's Saudi Arabian National Guard Modernization Program in Saudi Arabia.

He said he often referred back to what he learned at USD when then-President George W. Bush appointed him to the Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission and when he later served as president of the National Association for Uniformed Services, a national veteran's organization that advocates for active-duty service members, veterans and their families.

"I really credit my USD experience with paving the path that allowed me to serve at the highest levels of the military," he says.

"My education at USD helped me tremendously while serving as the Executive Secretary to two Secretaries of Defense and I often referred to my USD graduate course documents while serving in the Pentagon."

But being at USD, even though he wasn't Catholic, also helped Matz spiritually.

"I had been in the infantry and was in the thick of ground combat in the Mekong Delta," he recalls of his first of two tours in Vietnam. "I was a professional soldier, but it was tough and heart-wrenching to see the destruction, devastation and oftentimes the wounding and killing of your own men.

"When I came to USD, the professors took an intimate and personal interest in me," Matz continues. "Dr. Paul Thiel, my thesis advisor and the head of the political science department, suggested I just take some time and visit The Immaculata. It was such a quietly beautiful chapel and it did wonders for my spiritual well-being."

Linda, the consummate Army wife, says although it was difficult being away from friends and family on the East Coast, she enjoyed that time in San Diego, taking the children to the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld and the beach.

Today, she says they are both glad to be part of a community of Changemakers. She hopes their gift will help future Changemakers fulfill their dreams.

"I see Changemakers as innovators," Linda says. "They are visionary. They see a problem and they find innovative ways to find a solution. We want students who can't otherwise afford to attend this excellent university to have that opportunity and have the chance to make a difference."

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