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NEWS | Feb. 22, 2018

Ready Lightning Soldier Receives First Star

By Capt. David Gasperson 335th Signal Command (Theater)

U.S. Army Reserve Col. Matthew Easley was promoted to brigadier general Jan. 6, 2018. Easley, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York and alumnus of the University of Colorado at Boulder and Kansas State University pinned on the one-star insignia during a promotion ceremony held at the Colorado State Patrol Training Academy.

Promotion to general officer in the U.S. Army Reserve is anything but a part-time obligation and one that carries full-time responsibility. Easley will serve as the deputy commanding general, sustainment for the 335th Signal Command (Theater) in East Point, Georgia. The command has over 23 units and 3,700 Soldiers dispersed throughout the continental United States. Easley, who has two master's degrees, one in computer science and another in electrical engineering and a doctorate in computer science also works full-time as a senior systems engineer for the Boeing Company in Colorado. Needless to say, he's up for the challenge.

Brig. Gen. Nikki L. Griffin-Olive, deputy commanding general of operations, 335th Signal Command (Theater) served as the senior officer at the event. She opened by praising Easley's nearly 30 years of success and ability to excel in the military, the civilian sector and as a father of three.

“Somehow he manages to make it look effortless,” she said. “He leads extraordinary efforts in both his civilian career and in the military. All while balancing the immense responsibilities of a family. Matt is a warrior-scholar and a leader. He’s deployed multiple times for our nation. He’s led a battalion to combat, and successfully ensured that our— Soldiers at the most jagged edge of the battlefield had the communication abilities to face our adversaries.”

Toward the end of her remarks, Griffin-Olive praised Easley’s leadership development abilities. Throughout his career, Easley has encouraged both enlisted and officers he's served with to both take command positions and apply for challenging assignments. Those recommended, have all excelled.

“Matt has spent his many years of service, teaching our upcoming leaders about the importance our roles in the military,” Griffin-Olive said. “He’s a developer of leaders. He pushes others around him outside of their comfort zone to excel.”

She closed, quoting General Douglas MacArthur’s 1962 ‘Farewell Speech’ to the cadets of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

“Matt, as you go forward with your new found responsibilities, that very few of your peers will ever know," she said. "I challenge you to protect and uphold those three hallowed words that you probably first heard at West Point. Honor Duty, Country.”“Let those three words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be,” she said.

Following her remarks, Griffin-Olive's aide-de-camp, 1st Lt. Caroline Shaw read the promotion orders and members of Easley's family joined him to replace the colonel-embossed epaulets on the shoulder's of his Army Service Uniform with ones bearing the single star.

Easley's family then presented him with a general officer’s accouterments. He received a ceremonial general officer belt from his children. The buckle traces back to World War I when all officers wore brown belts with an interlocking eagle plate in garrison. Today it is worn with the Army Combat Uniform for ceremonies and other events. It is seldom used to carry a sidearm.

Lastly, Easley's father presented him with the general officer's pistol. Title 10, USC Section 2574 allows each general officer to receive a model M9 pistol on loan and purchase it when he or she retires. The guns are unique in that they are procured especially for general officers, with serial numbers prefixed with the letters GO. In addition to the pistol, and belt buckle, general officers receive a flag, holster, magazine, cleaning rod and brush and other accessories. The officer purchases these items.

After, donning his newly adorned service jacket and receiving his belt and pistol from his family, Easley spoke to the crowd about his journey from West Point plebe to general officer and the value of hard work.

“I’m definitely from the ‘be all you can be’ generation, and I hold that motto,” Easley said. “As a lieutenant, I saw a lot of senior officers, colonels, delegate all of their work," he said. "Delegation has its place, but you can't delegate it all and you have to do a lot of work yourself. Something, I ask myself every day is ‘What do I need to do in this job?’ ‘What do I owe my seniors?’ ‘What did I accomplish today?’ is a big part of my mantra. If I haven’t gotten done what I planned on doing, I stay up a little bit later.”

Easley credited his father for his work ethic and as a role model for why he chose to serve and continues to serve. “A lot of that hard work, I got from my father. My father is a WWII veteran, and I saw this tradition of service and working hard as a big part of being an American.”

He thanked his father and friends for their mentorship, the audience for their attendance, and his family for their sacrifice, and support. He concluded the ceremony with advice from his father. “One of the key phrases my father taught me when I was in elementary school was sticks and stones, but my father always felt that the original was wrong because words can indeed cut harshly,” he said. “Words are important to all of us,” Easley said.

“I purposely take time to write insightful comments on evaluations, and when recommending people for command. Just remember as you go forward, you can make a difference in another person’s life by saying good things—and sometimes bad things.”