IRVINE, Calif. (November 10, 2017)— A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on Friday, November 10 to officially launch Concordia University Irvine’s (CUI) renamed Veterans Resource Center (VRC), now named the U.S. Staff Sgt. Matthew Thompson Veterans Resource Center in honor of fallen CUI alumnus Staff Sgt. Matthew Thompson.
"Concordia University is proud to serve our nation's veterans by providing excellent academic programs and the individual attention many veterans need as they work to complete their degrees and enter the workforce. Our new Resource Center, named in honor of Concordia alumnus Matthew Thompson, will provide even more helpful and convenient academic resources for our veterans and their children,” said Concordia Irvine President Kurt Krueger.
Staff Sgt. Matthew V. Thompson, 28, died August 23, 2016 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, of injuries caused by an improvised explosive device that detonated near his patrol while conducting dismounted operations. Thompson was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. A graduate of Concordia, Thompson received his B.A. in Theological Studies in December 2010.
"We believe Matthew Thompson is an American hero who gave his life in service to his country so that we may continue to enjoy the freedoms so important to us all,” said President Krueger.
Congresswoman Mimi Walters (45th Congressional District of California) presented President Kurt Krueger with a certificate and addressed the audience of just over 100, which included Thompson’s family, friends, former professors and fellow soldiers.
Congresswoman Walters, a mother of four, acknowledged that the occasion was “bitter sweet” for the family, then, praising the veterans center, continued, “I know Matthew’s memory will live on forever, and that is a wonderful thing.”
Mark Thompson (Matthew’s father) was on hand, along with wife Lynda (Matthew’s mother) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mark spoke on behalf of the family, memorializing Matthew’s commitment to his faith and how he strived to live as both a good Christian and soldier. Mark remembered Matthew’s positive outlook saying, “You can always find something positive to be thankful for.”
Rev. Joel Beyer, brother of Rachel Thompson (Matthew’s wife) read a heartfelt message from Rachel, who is also a CUI alumna. Rachel was unable to attend due to an out-of-state commitment.
Also in attendance were state, county and city officials including: Scott Carpenter (Concordia alumnus), representing Senator John Moorlach (37th district); Chris Walsh, representing Assemblyman Matt Harper (74th District); County of Orange Field Deputy Al Tello (representing Supervisor Todd Spitzer and the County Board of Supervisors); and City of Irvine Mayor Pro Tem Lynn Schott.
The forty-minute ceremony included reflections from Thompson’s Special Forces Group, CUI student veteran Douglas Marquis (USMC, Christ College), faculty and staff. The event concluded with a ribbon cutting inside the door leading to the U.S. Staff Sgt. Matthew Thompson Veterans Resource Center.
Thompson's awards and decorations include: Bronze Star Medal; Army Commendation Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Medal; Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (Numeral 2); Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; Basic Parachutist Badge; and Special Forces Tab. Thompson was posthumously awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star Medal with V device, and Purple Heart Medal.
About Concordia University Irvine
Concordia University Irvine (CUI) is a private non-profit Lutheran Christian four-year liberal arts university that prepares students for their vocations—their calling in life. Concordia offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in education, nursing, theology, business, and coaching/athletics administration. CUI’s undergraduate program is distinctive because of its nationally recognized core curriculum, Enduring Questions & Ideas, and its Lutheran heritage that provides a thoughtful and caring Christian community that lives out the theology of "Grace Alone. Faith Alone." Concordia is a U.S. News Top Tier Regional University and has been named by The Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the fastest growing private nonprofit master's institutions. The University enrolls over 4,000 students annually and is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II.
Contact: Caroline Wong
Lizz Mishreki, APR
Director of Public Relations
Concordia University Irvine