Western New York's Medal of Honor Recipients
World War II
Lt. Col. Matt "The Ghost" Urban
On Saturday, June 14, 2008, a monument honoring America's most decorated combat soldier was unveiled in a ceremony at the Erie County Rath Building for Lt. Col. Matt "The Ghost" Urban. He was born in Buffalo on August 7, 1919 of Polish immigrant parents, raised at 1153 Broadway. He attended Buffalo Public School # 57.
This World War II hero had already earned every military award available - many more than once. (29 medals for bravery and The Purple Heart seven times) It took 35 years for him to be recognized for the Medal of Honor. The award nomination his battalion commander wrote, prior to being killed in action, never reached headquarters of the 9th Infantry Division in Europe. In 1978, a review of Matt Urban's records revealed a copy of this proposed letter. Officials discovered they had mistakenly overlooked awarding him the Medal of Honor. On July 19, 1980, then President Jimmy Carter presented him his long awaited Medal of Honor.
He was nicknamed "The Ghost" because of his sophisticated combat exploits. He led his troops through six campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, Belgium, France and Germany. Lt. Col. Matt Urban was wounded six times and six times he went back to the front lines. The seventh time he was wounded, he was shot in the throat and the bullet tore out a vocal cord. Army doctors gave him no hope for survival. He actually recovered two years later with damaged vocal cords which left him raspy-voiced to the end of his days. He died on March 20, 1995 as a result of complications from a collapsed lung brought on by one of his seven war wounds. Lt. Colonel Matt Urban was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in March 1995.