By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Westborough – Two Westborough veterans, John Jacob Leonard Matson and the late Stephen Eric Sullivan, have been named the town's 2012 Memorial Day parade Grand Marshals according to Kenneth G. Ferrera, the town's assistant veterans agent.
This year's parade, to be held Monday, May 28, will honor the end of the war in Iraq. Special emphasis will be placed on those veterans of Westborough who have participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
After graduating from Westborough High School, Sullivan joined the U.S. Marines where he trained as a field radio operator.
After his stint in the Marines, he worked as a residential advisor to children with special needs at the Devereux Foundation in Rutland, MA as well as earning a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Westfield State College. In 1993 he joined the U.S. Navy as a hospital corpsman, becoming an emergency medical technician and then serving as an assistant to the head of internal medicine at San Diego's Naval Medical Center.
Sullivan earned a master's degree in forensic science from National University in La Jolla, CA in 2000. Two years later, he joined Diplomatic Security at the State Department and was assigned to the Miami field office.
In 2004 he was awarded the department's Extra Mile Award for his role in tracking two career criminals across six states and bringing them into custody. Later that year he volunteered for a stint in Afghanistan where he was recognized for his work as a lead advance agent for the protective details during the country's presidential elections and as a shift leader during the inauguration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
It was while he was on duty during a protective detail in 2005 that Sullivan's convoy was attacked by a suicide bomber driving a car laden with explosives. Three other private security agents were also killed and two others were injured
Sullivan was posthumously awarded the Thomas Jefferson Star for Foreign Service, the Medal of Valor by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and Foreign Service Star. One of the largest facilities in Kabul, Afghanistan was named Camp Sullivan in his honor.
Sullivan is survived by his parents Robert and Diane, and his sisters, Erin Sullivan and Shauna Oliveri. His family will be representing him during the Memorial Day ceremonies.
Matson graduated from Fitchburg High School before receiving a bachelor's degree from Tufts University in 1965. In October 1966 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, attended the U.S Army Intelligence School and then was stationed at the 108th Military Intelligence Group at the Army's base in Boston.
In October 1967, he was promoted to first lieutenant and was assigned to duty with the 1st Infantry Division's Military Detachment, located about 12 miles north of Saigon. In that capacity he worked with several Republic of Vietnam soldiers interrogating prisoners of war to gain critical, time-sensitive information about enemy troop movements, weapon caches, supplies, and equipment. During the TET Offensive January to March 1968, Matson's base camps, Divan and Lai Khe, both received heavy shelling from rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Matson has been decorated with the National Defense Service ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, Sharpshooter (M-14) Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the Bronze Star for service.
After retiring from the Army, he received a J.D. from Suffolk Law School in 1971 and a LL.M. from George Washington University in 1974. Since moving to Westborough in 1974, he has been very active in the community, serving on the Citizens School Advisory Committee, Finance Advisory Committee, and the WTV Board of Directors. Presently he is a member of the Congregational Church, Judge Advocate for the American Legion Post 163, Judge Advocate for Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) Post 9013, and Chair of the Trustees of Soldiers” Memorials.
Matson worked in the Wyman-Gordon law department and with trade associations in Boston and Washington, DC, before opening a law practice in Westborough in 1987. He and his wife Ann have two children and two grandchildren.
The parade will start at the VFW Post 9013, 9 Milk St. on Monday, May 28 at 8 a.m. Dedications will take place at St. Luke's Cemetery, Pine Grove Cemetery, Midland Cemetery and the Forbes Building Memorials, before returning to the VFW Post about 11 a.m.
For more information, call Veterans Agent George Perry or Ferrera at 508-366-3085.