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Connecticut Fire Fighter Fights War on Terror for Third Tour

May 7, 2008 – As the War on Terror continues, more and more IAFF members find themselves leaving their turnout gear, families and friends behind to serve military tours of duty. West Hartford, CT Local 1241 James “Hooch” Matthews, a respected fire fighter and United States Army Reservist, is now on his third tour, serving as Battalion Sergeant Major of the 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion, 1st Armored Division in Tikrit, Iraq.

“The West Hartford fire fighters are very proud of the lengths Brother Matthews has gone to protect us here at home and overseas,” says Louis Glanz, president of West Hartford Local 1241. “We are looking forward to having him back home.”

After the 9/11 attacks, Matthews, a 12-year veteran fire fighter, was first deployed in October 2002 with a military police unit to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he was responsible for the care and control of suspected terrorists detained there.

He was deployed once again in December 2004 to Baghdad, Iraq. There, he also worked in military police operations. He received a Bronze Star for “demonstrating strong leadership, exceptional managerial skills and intuitive insight to properly enhance the individual training for operations in a combat environment.”

In his current assignment, Matthews’ unit has the responsibility for civil military operations for half of Iraq. He is expected back in Connecticut at the end of this year.

At home, he is known as a dedicated family man to his wife, Leslie, and his three stepdaughters. For his commitment to Local 1241, Matthews received the first Patrick Brooks Award, named for a fallen local president, for exemplifying strong union brotherhood.

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