Trio inducted into Rowland Hall of Fame
He flew Apache attack helicopters in Iraq, guarded the 38th Parallel in Korea, and now safeguards America at the North American Aerospace Defense command in Colorado.
But Lt. Colonel Patrick Matthews still recalls his days at Rowland High School fondly. There he served in the Associated Student Body, as well as on the yearbook and newspaper staffs.
"The teachers were great. I was well-prepared for West Point when I graduated from Rowland in 1984," the 42-year-old Army officer explained.
The Gulf War veteran was one of three alumni inducted into the school's Hall of Fame on Oct. 10. Ceremonies were held before the big homecoming game.
After graduating from West Point in 1988, Matthews was commissioned
as a lieutenant in the infantry. The young officer would go on to serve with the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky.
"Ranger school was the toughest for me, it was difficult but I earned my Ranger tabs," Matthew said.
A unit exchange sent him to the British Infantry School in England. Later Matthews deployed to Panama, before being sent to the Persian Gulf, where he was the executive officer for a headquarters company during Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
"I wanted to fly, so I applied to flight training and earned my wings as a cavalry aeroscout," Matthews said.
In 1991, the new helicopter pilot was assigned to South Korea, based only a mile south of the Demilitarized Zone. Matthews would serve a second tour in Korea in 2001.
There he learned to lead complex helicopter attacks under the most demanding conditions. These maneuvers came in handy in March 2003, when Matthews joined the invasion of Iraq.
"I flew Apache helicopters in Operation Iraqi Freedom," the Army aviator noted.
Since 2004, the Lieutenant Colonel has held key positions at NORAD in Colorado Springs. Matthews has worked in Homeland Defense while raising three sons.
"I expect to retire from the Army this year, but I'll continue to work in Homeland Defense for a civilian contractor," Matthews said.
While the career soldier was not able to make the Hall of Fame ceremonies at Rowland High School, he thanks his alma mater for the great honor.
"I hope some Rowland grads will also want to serve their country. That they'll want to help make our communities safer," Matthews concluded.
The right attitude
Anthony Stevens is a huge fan of the Chicago Bears. The Rowland resident has always loved football, playing Jr. All American Football.
"I love the Bears because they have a cocky attitude," Stevens said.
The 33-year-old shares a bit of
Which is good because during football camp at Rowland High in 1990, the then 15-year-old suffered a serious illness.
"We were practicing twice a day during Hell Week and I started feeling strange. I told the coach and he sent me to the locker room to call my parents," Stevens recalled.
Doctors didn't realize the young football player was bleeding internally near his brainstem.
"I kept getting worse, losing motor skills and my equilibrium," Stevens said.
The young man was hospitalized for several months in the hospital. But Stevens was determined to return to Rowland for the second semester.
Returning to school in a wheelchair, he inspired everyone at the local high school, especially members on the football team.
"He has a lot of strength and charisma. My son has always inspired me," said Anthony's mother, Carol.
She noted that doctors had given her son only a year to live with his condition. But decades later, Anthony is still fighting on.
While he would never be able to play football again, his disability didn't prevent him from becoming a team manager. Coach Dave Martin and his team even raised $1,500 to help pay some of the high medical bills.
The young Raider also made up his classes in time to graduate on schedule with the Class of 1993.
Through rehabilitation, Stevens even began to walk again. But another stroke forced him back into a wheelchair.
the young man wouldn't give up. Stevens continued his education at Mt. San Antonio College, where he earned a degree in mathematics.
"My dad and mom have been very supportive, so have my aunts and uncles. The whole community has helped me," Steven explained.
He even got to meet his hero, President Bill Clinton through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
"I got to sit in the Oval Office and toured the White House. I wrote a poem to read to the President," Stevens recalled.
Today, he works full time at Wal-Mart in Brea.
"I love what I'm doing. I greet customers at the door and it makes me happy," Stevens said. "A smile brightens everyone's day."
There, he met Sheri, his girlfriend of two years.
Coach Martin is still a family friend. He takes Stevens boogieboarding almost every week.
"It's a struggle to get into the water, but I'm good after that," Stevens said with his typical smile.
He said he was surprised when the high school chose him for the Hall of Fame.
"Rowland has always supported me," Stevens said.
Rocket science From rocket scientist to a protector of intellectual property, Uleses C. Henderson Jr. has led an interesting life since graduating from Rowland High School in 1989.
Henderson currently works at the law firm of Loeb & Loeb in Century City, where he specializes in intellectual property and entertainment.
"I work with many entertainers like Cary Underwood, as well as the estates of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe," Henderson said.
The Rowland grad became interested in law while designing spacecraft for the Aerospace Corp. and TRW's Space and Technology Division.
"I enrolled in Loyola Law School's evening program and earned my doctorate in law," Henderson said.
He also serves as outside counsel for several Fortune 100 companies and associate counsel to the Church of God in Christ, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the country.
"I'm a licensed minister and serve on the board of directors for my church, the West Angeles Church of God in Christ. It has more than 23,000 members," Henderson noted.
After graduating from Rowland, he earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University. While at Purdue, he began working at NASA's Langley Research Center as a research scientist.
Later the young African American was awarded a fellowship by the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science.
This allowed Henderson to get his master's degree in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Now an attorney, Henderson has returned to Los Angeles to raise his 1-year-old son with his wife.
The 37-year-old said he was honored when Rowland selected him for the Hall of Fame. Henderson was vice president of the National Honor Society and played football, basketball and track.
"Rowland was a great school with lots of good teachers. The quality education definitely helped me get a good start," Henderson said.