Giving Back

West Orange Alumnus Makes Mark as USMC Weapons Platoon Commander

Matt Dunovant, right, receives his first salute and handshake as a commissioned officer from brother Josh as mom looks on.
Matt and Annie Dunovant on their wedding day.
Training operations.
Dunovant with his troops.

WEST ORANGE, NJ – West Orange High School Class of 2011 alumnus Leonard “Matt” Dunovant is enjoying the challenge of serving his country as Weapons Platoon Commander and Fire Support Team (FiST) Leader for Weapons Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 3D Marines.

“My Marines range in age from 18 to 33 and prove to be both professionals of the warfighting craft in both study and practice, and men of boisterous, rowdy and fun-loving characteristics forming a diverse and dynamic family from the brotherhood they always had,” said Dunovant.

Prior to his appointment as Weapons Platoon Commander, Dunovant served as Rifle Platoon Commander for 1st Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 3D Marines.

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“Both platoons are comprised of some of the most intellectual minds, technical and tactical experts, and dynamic leaders in their fields,” said Dunovant. “They come from a multitude of career paths prior to selecting to be infantrymen: construction workers, mechanics, pipe welders, EMTs, oyster shuckers, some straight from high school, and others with college degrees ranging from Associates degrees to Bachelors of Science in Biomedical Engineering. They come from all around the country and some from outside its borders.”

Dunovant, 24, was an academic and wrestling standout during his time at West Orange High School. Following his graduation in 2011, he attended the US Naval Academy and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Economics (Honors).

His passion for ethics dominated his efforts working with professors Pamela Schmitt and Kurtis Swope on research first begun at the London School of Economics and focusing on behavioral economics, specifically collective action and cooperation.

Josh Dunovant, 22, a 2012 WOHS grad and Matt's younger brother, is also among its ranks of the United States Marine Corps. Josh recently completed his active duty and is now in the reserves on a fast track for a college degree in International Supply Chain Management and Logistical Operations from Arizona State University.

“My first salute as a commissioned officer came from Josh,” said Dunovant.  

Somewhere in between the whirlwind and rigorous pace of training, Dunovant met and married his best friend and love of his life George-Ann “Annie” Lubin, an elementary school teacher, on June 25, 2016.

“I returned home from training in 29 Palms, California and graduated the Infantry Officer Course at 6 a.m. in Quantico, VA,” said Dunovant. “And at 1 p.m. that same day at the Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, MD, I married Annie.”

When asked what advice he would offer to West Orange High School students, Dunovant said:

“Find out what you love to do, have a vision and write it down. Set your goals and find out what is required to get there. Each challenge, each obstacle, each wall—whether family, finance, past failures, heartache, more failures, physical injury, handicap, self-doubt, laziness, even more failures or apathetic mindset—is an opportunity to grow. Focus on the small details, every action or inaction counts, and be intentional with how you spend your 84,000 seconds each day. To every challenge, bring a positive attitude. Lastly, and firstly, pray.”

Dunovant went on to say that he would like to make the Marine Corps a stronger and more effective fighting force each day that he is a part of it. He said this begins with” taking seriously and being intentional about the impact had on every Marine under my command both past and present.”

“One day, the United States will again need its Corps to do the hard work—the heavy lifting and the decisive fighting—in defense of the nation’s freedoms and national interests, and it will likely be one of my most junior Marines in the leadership billets of tomorrow taking on and leading in that fight,” Dunovant said of his goals.

Dunovant offered up his favorite quote from Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena,” to sum up the challenges of the past few years:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

“I want to be a better husband today than I was yesterday, and I want to be a better commander for my men today than I was yesterday—and in that order,” said Dunovant. “In all interactions, towards all people, I want to be a good dude.”

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