News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 19, 2013

Terre Haute native Navy Reservist to assist with Obama inauguration

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A Navy Reservist from Terre Haute will help make history — behind-the-scenes — as he assists with Monday’s inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Matthew Riley, a U.S. Navy chief petty officer, is helping coordinate the military ceremonial support for opening ceremonies, inaugural galas and other events. The military provides musical bands, color guards, salute batteries and more.

Riley, 38, also assisted with the 2009 inauguration of President Obama. Riley is a project officer for special events and part of a 200-member task force, whose membership is comprised of all branches of the military, including Reserve and National Guard.

While he’s helping coordinate numerous events, Riley is assigned today at the Kids’ Inaugural Concert for military families, and Monday, he is assigned to duty at the Inaugural Ball.

Riley will work with Armed Forces color guards and military bands. “I’ll do the behind-the-scenes aspect, making sure they are in the right spot and ready to go,” Riley said in a telephone interview Wednesday. A military band will play “Hail to the chief” when the president arrives.

“Being a member of the inaugural support staff is a great opportunity for any service member,” Riley said. “I’m proud to carry on that tradition.”

The U.S. Armed Forces have participated in presidential inaugurations since April 30, 1789, when George Washington was first inaugurated at Federal Hall in New York City.

According to Riley, members of the military take an oath to defend and support the Constitution, he said, and part of that is a peaceful inauguration of a new leader.

“Not everyone in the world has that liberty and freedom,” he said.

While his assistance with the inauguration is considered active duty orders, he said he wanted to return and did so voluntarily. In 2009, “I enjoyed working with everyone … I get to meet new people from all over the nation and from different service branches.”

Riley, who lives in Terre Haute, is married and has three children, ages 21, 17 and 13.

He was an adjunct faculty member in applied health sciences at Indiana State University for six years. He has served with the U.S. Navy for 20 years.

Riley’s been in Washington for several months, helping with plans for the inauguration. He expects to return to Terre Haute for a short time before leaving for deployment in Afghanistan, where he will work for the office of the Army surgeon for about a year.

His parents currently live in Bedford, although his dad is originally from Terre Haute and graduated from Garfield High School.

Riley’s previous work in the U.S. Navy includes providing humanitarian assistance to Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia as part of  Pacific Partnership in 2012.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.