KIA August 10, 2012
Operation Enduring Freedom
Assigned to 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, Camp Pendleton, California.
Marine Captain Matthew Manoukian died in Sangin district, Afghanistan, after a rogue Afghan dressed as a policeman began firing in the Tactical Operations Center. As the commander of the special operations unit under attack, Matthew selflessly decided to leave his position of safety during the attack. He began firing his pistol at the rogue policeman, drawing fire away from his fellow marines and saving the lives of several men in the process. Matthew was awarded the Navy Cross for valor for his actions that day. Also killed were Marine SSgt Sky Mote and Marine GySg Ryan Jenschke.
From an early age, Matthew was protective of his friends and family, and always stuck up for what was right. According to his family, it wasn’t uncommon for Matthew to defend his friends while fighting back against bullies, even receiving a couple of black eyes throughout his childhood in the process. With an instinctively protective nature, and a familial history of service, it came as no surprise to his family and friends that Matthew planned to join the Marines.
After the events of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, Matthew’s instinct to protect caused him to want to immediately drop out of college and enlist. However, due to a knee injury from football that required surgery and a spinal tumor removal surgery, Matthew had to push back his plans to join the Marines. After recovering from those surgeries and graduating from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree, Matthew joined the Marine Corps in 2006 as an infantry officer.
Manoukian was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom twice and continued his lifelong mission of protecting those around him. In 2007 after an IED explosion, he worked to save a fellow Marine by applying a tourniquet on his leg although he suffered a concussion from the blast. Matthew went on to attend elite training before joining the 1st Marine Special Operations based at Camp Pendleton before deploying to Afghanistan.
During his service in the Marine Corps, he hoped to make a lasting impact by helping to establish a law-abiding society; he even learned to speak Arabic so that he could easily communicate with the village children and citizens. During his deployments, he saw the implantation of the law provide the Afghanistan people with access to justice and freedoms they hadn’t previously received, leading him to make plans to attend law school and become a public defender when his deployment ended.
Capt Matthew Manoukian was 29 years old from Los Altos Hills, California.
The original portrait was delivered July 21, 2018 to his mother, Patricia, and two brothers, Michael and Martin, in Carlsbad, California at the Marine Raider Foundation’s “Suitcase Party Gala.”