Veteran speaking on Veterans Day in Ridgefield

A veteran of the war in Afghanistan now working as a Ridgefield Police officer, Matthew Seibert, will be the keynote speaker at Ridgefield’s Veterans Day ceremonies.

“I have an appreciation for the civil liberties and the freedoms and a lot of what we have in this country today from my service over there,” Seibert said of his stint in Afghanistan. “It definitely has shaped who I am, and the person am today, and how I live my life.”

The ceremonies honoring America’s 21,700,000 veterans will begin at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11, on the grounds of the Community Center’s Lounsbury House on Main Street. The ceremonies are organized by Ridgefield American Legion Post 78, and include members of the Ridgefield Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Marine Veterans of Fairfield County.

The public is invited. People attending are asked to wear masks and practice social distancing at the event.

The ceremony will include patriotic songs sung by Ridgefielder Evelyn Carr and readings by veterans and local officials.

Cub Scout Pack 74 will lay a wreath on the veterans memorial monument in front of Lounsbury House on Main Street, followed by the firing of a military honors salute and the playing of taps.

“All are invited to attend this ceremony as a tribute to our veterans for their service,” said George Besse, commander of Ridgefield’s Everett Ray Seymour American Legion Post 78.

Like many who’ve served, Seibert is inclined too play down his own role.

‘Standard deployment’

“It wasn’t bad,” Seibert said of his eight-month deployment to Afghanistan. “It was a standard deployment. It wasn’t anything too special. Some stuff happened.”

He was in Afghanistan from April to December, 2015.

“I ran the base defense operations for the NATO headquarters in Kabul. It was a peacekeeping assistance operation.” Seibert said.

“I was in Kabul the whole time.”

Besse of the American Legion offered this summary of the Veterans Day’s speaker’s overseas service.

“Captain Seibert was deployed to Afghanistan in 2015 in support of Operation Resolute Support with the 143rd Regional Support Group as the Battle Captain for the Theater Headquarters’ Base Defense Operation Center,” Besse said.

“Captain Seibert has received many medals and ribbons for his service that includes the Army Commendation Medal with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters.”

Seibert’s job basically involved overseeing security on a large base in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital.

“I was overall in charge of security operations on the military post, from external threats,” he said.

...The base I was on had a lot of operational activities,” he said. “In general I would say my job when I was over there was to support the operational activities on whole and the Afghan government.”

‘Resolute support’

The mission was called “Resolute Support” in part because it was a period when the brunt of actual combat duties had been transferred from NATO troops to Afghan troops.

“The whole goal was to stabilize Afganistan and it's government,” Seibert said.

He worked mostly with Americans but also with Afghans and troops from some of the more than 30 nations that were part of the mission — British, German, Australians, Italians, Romanians, Georgians, Turks.

Security operations he managed included manning the guard towers, overseeing helicopter landings and take-offs, keeping track of visitors to the base.

“The Macedonian military was providing escorts to the Afghan workers on the base, that were doing work for us,” he said. “You pay the locals to do the work, so you build up the economy.”

Small city

His responsibilities ranged from managing various comings and goings — by Afghan government officials for instance — to dealing with situations like problems at the base’s sewage treatment plant.

“The base I was on is like a small city,” he said.

“Ninety-time percent of the time I did that — supervise base operations. We also were a dispatch center,” he said. “We’d have phones manned 24-7.”

Troops from the base did venture out on various missions.

“There were military assistance operations,” Seibert said.

“...We had units that were going out on patrol. They were going out and doing movements of generals or VIPs or senior personnel.”

Although he had a lot of responsibilities, Seibert described his role in modest terms.

“I didn’t have any real power, in the position I was in,” he said. “I was just a low level guy in day-to-day operations, making sure that they get done.”

Seibert, who grew up in Oxford, Connecticut, went to the University of Connecticut.

“I did ROTC in college,” he said. “Commissioned in the Army National Guard in May of 2012.

“I’m a guardsman,” he said “You know the old adage: ‘one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer’ — which isn’t true.”

He has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Connecticut and a masters in criminal justice from Sacred Heart University.

“Out of college, I had a history degree. I couldn’t really find a job with that,” he said.

He ended up working for a Securitas, a firm providing security for both the Ridgefield Public Schools and Boehringer Ingelheim.

He worked at Ridgefield High School, and later at Boehringer.

“September of 2013 I got hired for the Ridgefield Police Department, and in 2015 I left for Afghanistan — I took a leave of absence.” he said.

Still serving

He’s back with the Ridgefield Police now and said he enjoys working here.

“I think it’s a great town and a great community to be in,” he said.

He continues to serve in the Connecticut Army National Guard in the 85th Troop Command, assisting in mission support from Hurricane Isaias to COVID response.

Seibert lives in Woodbury now, with his wife Caitlin and their one year old daughter Mackenzie — who presents a different sort of challenge.