In its mission to take history out of the textbooks by honoring a local veteran each month of the school year, the Hampton Bays School District is paying tribute to Navy veteran Matthew Dwyer by flying an American flag in his honor through February 17.
“The district is proud to honor Mr. Dwyer for his bravery and service to the United States,” Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen said.
Dwyer was honored at a ceremony at Hampton Bays Elementary School on Friday, January 27. During the event, middle school students sang, “Believe” by Shawn Mendes, and high school VFW Patriot’s Pen essayists read their works and introduced Dwyer. Public officials, including Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming and Southampton Town Councilwoman Julie Lofstad also spoke in Dwyer’s honor.
The ceremony concluded with the raising of the American flag.
Dwyer was born in the Bronx and has resided in Hampton Bays since 1982. He graduated from Fairfield University in 1964 and Georgetown University Law Center in 1967 and was admitted to the New York and Washington, D.C. Bar.
In 1967, Dwyer enlisted in the Navy Reserve at Fort Schuyler in the Bronx and went to bootcamp at Great Lakes Training Center in Illinois. Following bootcamp, he was sent to active duty at the Brooklyn Naval Yard for two months before receiving a ship assignment aboard the USS Mauna Loa, an ammunition ship that was ported in Naples, Italy, on the Mediterranean Sea.
Dwyer flew to Royal Air Force Mildenhall in England, and then on to Italy. Since he had a law degree, the captain of the ship assigned him to the ship’s office. The captain then encouraged him to take the Navy-wide test for promotion to Petty Officer Third Class. Soon after, Dwyer passed the test and was promoted.
He was responsible, for a time, for painting and repairing parts of the ship to prepare for the chief of naval operations’ subsequent visit via a landing on the ship’s heliport. Mr. Dwyer also created a ship library and conducted a high school General Equivalency Diploma program onboard the Mauna Loa.
While on the Mauna Loa, Dwyer sailed to Vietnam and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba—the site of a United States base and prison. The captain reassigned him to Newport, Rhode Island, where his duties included coordination and training for the Navy’s Sixth Fleet on base. After completing his active duty obligation in December 1971, Dwyer continued service in the Navy Reserve by attending weekly meetings in the Bronx until his enlistment commitment ended in 1974.
He did not reenlist because he was returning to a civilian job as an attorney with the U.S. Treasury Department.
In 1983, Dwyer opened his private practice law office in Hampton Bays and he continues to maintain an active practice. He has also been a member of the American Legion Hand-Aldrich Post 924 for over 35 years and was the post’s judge advocate for 25 years. Dwyer was also president of the Irish-American Society of the Hamptons and the Hampton Bays Beautification Association; an officer of the Hampton Bays Lions Club; Trustee of the Hampton Bays American Legion; Treasurer of the St. Rosalie’s Church Holy Name Society and the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
Dwyer has been married to his wife, Barbara, for 48 years and they have two children, Brendan and Alana, and two grandchildren, Daniel and Matthew.
His flag will fly over the Hampton Bays schools until the next veteran is honored in a February 17 ceremony.