Rescuers : Major Matthew Jonkey
Major Matt Jonkey was born in Las Vegas in 1973 and raised in Carson City, Nevada. Before Matt realized his dream of becoming a helicopter pilot he studied Criminal Justice at the University of Nevada. His father, now a retired FBI agent, was one of the reasons Matt was drawn this field. Matt didn’t end up working for the FBI, but he still credits his father as his main career inspiration: “Probably my biggest role model is my father, just instilling the sense of work ethic and pride and integrity into what I do. The fundamentals that he gave me for dealing with life’s challenges have certainly helped me throughout my career.” Matt took a break from his Criminal Justice studies to attend flight school. Once he was working as a helicopter pilot for the U.S. Army he returned to college and finished his degree. His job with the military has brought him around the world for humanitarian missions, training and war efforts. He has been to Antigua, Iceland, Afghanistan and Haiti.
His work with the National Guard has been diverse. While deployed to Afghanistan, he was a Maintenance Officer and Maintenance Test Pilot. For this job, he was responsible for recovering aircraft downed by small arms fire or mechanical problems. He performed quick repairs so the aircraft could make it back to base. In Haiti, his unit’s mission was primarily to resupply medical facilities, move troops, offer hurricane evacuation support, and provide personnel with Medical Evacuation to Guantanamo Bay or the Dominican Republic.
On being one of four main characters in the IMAX film Rescue, he says: “It’s been a lot of fun. The reason I’ve enjoyed doing it is because it’s something I can show my kids someday and something I can be proud of doing.”
Matt is currently working as a Supervisory Instructor Pilot/Operations Officer with the Nevada National Guard. When asked about being a helicopter pilot, he says he “can’t imagine doing anything else.”