Major Matt Shortal is a native of Chicago, Illinois. He graduated with honors from St.
Pius X High School in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1990. He attended the University of Illinois on a Naval
Reserve Officer Training Corp (NROTC) Scholarship where he ran varsity track and graduated in
1994 with a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy and CPA designation.
After graduation, Matt reported to Quantico, Virginia, for The Basic School. He reported
for aviation indoctrination at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, and then primary flight
training at nearby NAS Whiting Field. Matt then transferred to NAS Meridian, Mississippi, for
intermediate flight training, and NAS Kingsville, Texas, for advanced flight training where he
earned his wings of gold in February 1997.
Matt then transferred to Marine Corps Training Squadron 101 (VMFAT 101), the
“Sharpshooters,” at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) El Toro, California, for training in the F/A-18
Hornet. In July 1998, he reported to the “Red Devils” at Marine Strike Fighter Squadron 232
(VMFA 232), MCAS Miramar. Matt completed one Unit Deployment Program (UDP) to MCAS
Iwakuni, Japan. In February 2001, Matt transferred to VMFAT 101 as an instructor pilot. He
served as the assistant air-to-ground phase head and night attack phase head. In addition, Matt
was a member of the All-Marine Triathlon Team for three years, representing the Marine Corps at
the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002. In 2002, he also
represented the United States as a member of Team USA at the World Long Course Triathlon
Championships in Nice, France..
In December 2002, Matt transferred to the VMFA (AW) 225 “Vikings” as the pilot training
officer. In February 2003, Matt deployed to Kuwait and flew 36 combat missions in support of
Operations Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom. Upon return, he reported to the Navy Fighter
Weapons School (TOPGUN), at NAS Fallon, Nevada, and graduated in July. In October, Matt
graduated from Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS 1) Weapons and
Tactics Instructor (WTI) Course.
Matt deployed to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, in March 2004 for another UDP. In September
2004, Matt was selected as the 2004 Marine Corps Aviator of the Year, earning the Alfred A.
Matt joined the Blue Angels in September of 2004. He has accumulated more than 2,300
flight hours. His decorations include the Individual Air Medal with combat “V,” three Strike Flight
Air Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals (one Combat Distinguishing
Device), two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and various personal and unit