“Language Is A Window Into The Psyche Of A Community”: Adventures In The Marines, The Army, And The USMA Dean’s Office

Brent Matthews


Brent Matthews was born in Bangor, Wales, in 1962. His parents both served in the Navy in WWII, his mother in the American Navy and his father in the British Navy. They met in Saudi Arabia, and after the war they ran a pub on a Welsh Island. Shortly after Brent was born, the family moved to San Pedro, California, and he grew up at the beach, enjoying fishing, and playing soccer. After high school, he joined the Marine Corps, shipping off to boot camp on the Monday after high school graduation. He spent nearly eight years in the Marines, during which he played soccer for the Marine team on Okinawa, met his wife while attending college, and served as a Radio Telephone Operator. After leaving the Marine Corps in 1987, he enlisted in the Army for Officer Candidate School with the goal of leading Soldiers as an Army Aviator. During his career, he flew the UH-1, the OH-58C, and the C-12 (fixed wing). At the mid-point in his career, he was selected as a Foreign Area Officer (FAO), and learned the Portuguese language. He then completed the Brazilian Army’s Armor Officer’s Advanced Course. After serving as an Assistant Army Attaché in Honduras and an Army Attaché in Belize, he was selected to teach Spanish at the United States Military Academy. As he retired from the Army, he began a new career as the Director of the International Intellectual Development Division at West Point, responsible for sending Cadets out on Academic Individual Advanced Development (AIAD) opportunities in the summer, administering the Exchange Cadet Program for international Cadets coming to West Point, and managing West Point Cadets completing semesters abroad. In this interview, he talks about his childhood, his experiences in the Marine Corps, and his transition to the Army. He describes flying different types of aircraft, and his service as a FAO. He discusses teaching in the Department of Foreign Languages at West Point, and transitioning to the Dean’s Office. He explains the importance of Cadets learning foreign languages, having experiences overseas, and understanding different cultures. Finally, he reflects on what his service means to him.


topics Leadership USMC Character West Point History
interviewer David Siry
date 24 February 2020


name Brent Matthews
service USMC / Aviation
unit 12th Marine Artillery; 11th Marines; USMA Staff and Faculty
specialty Director of International Intellectual Development Division, USMA
service dates 1980 2007