U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) spoke on the Senate floor today in honor of Naval Airman Matthew Chialastri, a Louisiana native who lost his life on November 22 while serving in the Philippine Sea.
CASSIDY: I want to first recognize and honor our fellow Americans serving overseas in our military. Men and women dedicating their time and efforts to keep our country safe, working far from home and often in danger. Every day, they risk their lives to defend our freedoms.
Today, I want to talk about one in particular, U.S. Naval Airman Matthew Chialastri, who not only risked his life, but gave his life.
Matthew was born and raised in Louisiana, graduating valedictorian at Woodlawn High School in Baton Rouge, class of 2013. There, a member of the JROTC program, after graduating choosing to enlist in the Navy.
After completing his training, he began his active duty service with Patrol Squadron 30, a P-8 training squadron. Then he served aboard the aircraft carrier USS America, serving from December 2015 to October of this year. He was then sent to Commander Fleet Activities in Japan, to begin preparing to join the USS Ronald Reagan.
During the course of his service he earned the National Defense Ribbon and the Navy Battle “E” ribbon.
Sadly, on November the 22nd, during a transport flight to the USS Ronald Reagan, Matthew’s cargo plane was forced to make an emergency landing in the Philippine Sea.
Eight survived, three did not. Matthew and two of his fellow Navy servicemen lost their lives in service to our country.
This is a terrible tragedy. Our hearts go out to Matthew’s family, his mother Marty and father Phillip, his fellow sailors, and friends in Louisiana. We grieve with them.
As one of his former high school classmates said, Matthew “could have had any scholarship he ever wanted, to any school. He could’ve went anywhere he wanted, he just believed that serving our country was first. That was his everything.”
Others who knew him described Matthew as smart, dedicated, and a strong leader. They said he could always make those around him laugh with his dry sense of humor and smile.
As Americans, we mourn the loss of Naval Airman Matthew Chialastri. As folks from Louisiana, we mourn the loss of one of our own.
But we honor his memory and the example he set for those of us who benefitted from his willingness to sacrifice. We thank him for choosing to serve.
For his sacrifice, we are forever grateful.