Meet Matt Dawson – Army Veteran & Outdoor Adventure Guide
For a man who was awarded Purple Heart for his military service in Afghanistan, you might think leading paddle board and bicycle tours is a little tame.
But Matt Dawson says paddling on the waters around the Loxahatchee River and Jupiter Inlet is just the way he likes it.
“The other day I found a better bicycle path to Trapper Nelson’s from Riverbend Park. I love going out there trailblazing. I get to show other people how to enjoy the outdoors,” said the 27-year-old resident of Hobe Sound.
Outdoor activities were part of growing up in West Palm Beach, Dawson said. He continued those water and hiking activities when his family moved to Cumming, Georgia when he was a teenager. Dawson enlisted the Army in 2008 when he was 17.
After training in Fort Benning and Fort Stewart in Georgia, Dawson was assigned to Iraq in 2010. The next year he was sent to the Zhari District in southeast Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan.
His battalion was taking enemy gunfire about 3:30 a.m. on May 22, 2012.
said Dawson, who was a sergeant in the infantry.
“A grenade came over the wall. I was hit by shrapnel,” said Dawson.
After spending three months recovering in a military hospital, he was discharged in 2014. Dawson moved to Hobe Sound.
Like most military veterans who win awards, Dawson doesn’t talk much about his experience.
He does have a Purple Heart license plate on his pickup truck.
“I’m very proud of my military service,” Dawson says.
He and his wife Christina have a four-year-old son.
When he’s not paddle boarding or kayaking with Jupiter Outdoor Center, Dawson is a volunteer for the Florida Trail Association. He also likes to …
Slowly searching out the wonders of the waterways is how Dawson likes to conduct his tours. He wants those on his tour to leave with a better understanding – and respect – for the outdoors.
“I don’t like to rush. I want to explain to people what we are seeing. That way they go home with a better knowledge of what they saw,” said Dawson.