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North Kitsap Marine receives top honors

POULSBO — Marine Staff Sgt. Matthew T. Anderson can’t recall any childhood dreams of wanting to be in the service, but 11 years after graduating from North Kitsap High School, he’s been named one of the best in the Corps.

Anderson was honored as the United Service Organization’s Marine of the Year Sept. 18 during its annual gala in Washington D.C. en route to his new assignment as an instructor at the School of Infantry at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

“It’s still hard for me to believe,” Anderson said. “There are guys I’ve served with who deserved it more than me.”

While the award is an honor, it is more of a credit to the Marines and soldiers around him than anything else, he said, as he reflected on a journey that has taken him all across the globe, including two tours in Iraq.

Even though he has been honored as one of the nation’s top soldiers, being a Marine was never part of his long-range goals, he said.

“When I graduated from high school, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I joined the Marines and discovered I liked it,” he said, noting that the fun hasn’t stopped even though he’s been stationed more than a few places.

That fun comes not only from his job as an infantryman on the front lines, but from the people around him, Anderson said.

“I’m still having fun and the best part of the job is the guys I work with,” he said.

Having been to Iraq twice, Anderson said he has seen the evolution of the scope of military operations from the initial stages to present day.

“It was a different kind of war the second time because we were fighting an insurgency where the first time we were fighting the regular Iraqi Army,” he said, noting that while the two operations were different, there were many similarities as well.

His experience during the initial invasion better prepared him for his second combat tour as he shared that knowledge with other soldiers who were seeing their first combat experience, he said.

“It was really an eye-opener working with 18- and 19-year-old guys and seeing how they performed,” he said. “I’d put these guys today against guys from any other era.”

Now as instructor, Anderson said he has the opportunity to take some of the things he learned as a student in North Kitsap and impart them to future Marines.

“Everybody taught me something and I’m going to use all of it in my current position,” he said, noting that through the years he and his family have received a tremendous amount of support from the community.

While he may not be ready to give the Marines one final salute, Anderson said there is only one place he calls home.

“We come back every chance we get and it’s always going to be home,” he said of the Little Norway.

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