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Meet the Commander: Major Matthew Joseph, Engineering Resilience

Major Matthew Joseph, commander of the 823rd Red Horse Squadron, Detachment 1 receives the guidon, July 2015.  Joseph took command of Tyndall’s Silver Flag readiness and training mission and has ensured that civil engineers, communications, force Support, and finance personnel learn how to build and maintain bare-base operations at a forward-deployed location.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen/Released)

Major Matthew Joseph, commander of the 823rd Red Horse Squadron, Detachment 1 receives the guidon, July 2015. Joseph took command of Tyndall’s Silver Flag readiness and training mission and has ensured that civil engineers, communications, force Support, and finance personnel learn how to build and maintain bare-base operations at a forward-deployed location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen/Released)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Being in command can be a heavy burden, a burden that can weigh even more when life throws hard times our way.

Major Mathew Joseph, commander of Detachment 1, 823rd RED HORSE Squadron, has not only dealt with all the challenges of a new command, but also the passing of his wife, Staci. 

Joseph had been in the Air Force for a little more than 13 years when Staci passed away in May, 2015. He subsequently took command of the 823rd in July and rose to the challenge of providing contingency combat support training to more than 4,500 people a year.  

Joseph said he felt good about becoming such a big part of Silver Flag and leading the expert Airmen who make up the 823rd RHS, Det. 1. He also said he likes contributing to the "greater good" as a civil engineer.

"One of my proudest moments in this field is when we improved the infrastructure for the Afghanistan government and watched a system that had been inept, corrupt, and entitled -- bring a park to the local population with a 20 percent savings on construction costs."

Despite his professional achievements, Joseph's personal loss has given him a new perspective.

 "I've realized that most of my life I've spent my time looking forward and not appreciating the blessings that I have," Joseph said.  "Lately, playing with my son has taken most of my time.  My son is 2 and he just loves a place to be able to run around in. So I have my hands full with him.  With everything that's gone on, there hasn't been much consistency. But my life pretty much revolves around work and my boy."

Joseph is from White Bear Lake, Minnesota, where he went to White Bear Lake Area High School and grew up with his twin brother.  After high school, Joseph went to the Air Force Academy on a football scholarship.

"The Air Force Academy was the only college that offered me a football scholarship," Joseph said.  "I couldn't really pass up the chance for free school and the opportunity to play D-1 football."

Years later after he graduated in 2002, Joseph ended up back in Colorado Springs where a neighbor introduced him to the woman who would later become his wife, Staci.

"It's funny because when we first met, I thought she hated me," Joseph said.  "We ended up getting into an argument about politics and I thought she'd never want to speak to me again.  I guess I made some sort of impression because we ended up dating and getting married afterwards."

With all he has been through, Joseph has remained resilient and maintains his resolve to lead  the critical mission of RED HORSE. 

"It's near and dear to my heart," Joseph said.  "What we do is the 'big picture' deployment process and set-up for most of the Air Force.  Our mission is vital and feels good being able to help people."

He also offered words of encouragement to Airmen who may be experiencing the hardships of personal loss.

 "Enjoy life and enjoy your assignments," Joseph said.  "You can be miserable in Florida, or happy in Minot, depending on what you make of it.  You never know how the situation might change so appreciate everything and all the people in your life.  Enjoy the little things in life and make sure your eyes aren't so pointed forward that you miss the good stuff at your feet."