Matt Roland was born on December 24, 1987, on Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota. He entered the U.S. Air Force Academy on June 29, 2006, and was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force on May 26, 2010. After completing Special Tactics Officer training, Capt Roland served as a Special Tactics Officer, Assistant Flight Commander, and then Flight Commander with the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Florida, from June 2012 until he was killed in action in Afghanistan on August 26, 2015. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For exceptionally heroic actions while serving as Special Tactics Officer, NATO Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan/Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan, Operation Freedom's Sentinel in support of Resolute Support Mission. On 26 August 2015, Captain Roland gave the last full measure to save the lives of his teammates at Camp Antonik, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Captain Roland was driving the lead vehicle of a special forces convoy transiting through Afghan checkpoints enroute to their camp from Bastion Airfield. When the convoy reached the final checkpoint, one guard approached the left side of Captain Roland's vehicle while a second guard maneuvered toward a fortified position containing a belt fed machine gun. As the first guard came within five feet of the bus, he began to raise his weapon. Without hesitation and with no regard to his own safety, Captain Roland yelled "insider attack, insider attack!" while keying his radio to alert all convoy members. Simultaneously, Captain Roland reversed his vehicle away from the gunman to protect his vehicle occupants. The gunman's first rifle burst tore through the front of the vehicle, killing Captain Roland instantly. But his warning to the other personnel in his convoy afforded them precious time to react. His passengers were able to take cover and draw their weapons, neutralizing both gunmen and limiting the number of friendly casualties. Captain Roland's actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military heroism and reflect distinct credit upon himself, the NATO Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan/Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan, and the United States Air Force.