Lt. Colonel Douglas Mastriano, Class of ’86

Most students at Eastern College probably first knew Mastriano as the student who delivered their pizza from SAGA, the catering company Eastern contracted with at the time. They also might have spotted him working the grill at Eastern’s snack bar.

That all changed when Mastriano decided to run for Senior class vice president. He and his running mate, Joe Ameka, knew from the start that they would be facing an uphill battle because their opponents had been in office for years. “We knew it was going to be a tough race as we were challenging the establishment,” Mastriano said. In an effort to spread their message, Ameka and Mastriano decided to paint an appeal for votes on Eastern’s famous Graffiti Rock. The night before their election, Ameka, his girlfriend, Mastriano, and his fiancé climbed out to the rock and got to work, only to be attacked by an angry swan. Fortunately, the group was able to fend the bird off and finish painting. The next day, they won the election.

Mastriano was also a part of Eastern’s ROTC program. After graduation, he joined the United States Army. He was assigned to the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in West Germany, which was stationed on the border with East Germany and Czechoslovakia. While there, he witnessed the end of the Cold War.

“The look in the eyes of the newly-freed Eastern Europeans was priceless,” he remembers, “I was among the first to welcome these people to the free world and I thought, ‘it will never get better than this.'”

Soon after, Mastriano found himself on the front lines of Operation Desert Storm. The 2nd Armored Cav was one of the lead elements of the ground war. He came perilously close to death several times during the conflict, but God protected him every time. On one occasion, he was riding in a helicopter that chanced upon a group of Iraqi vehicles. Mastriano wrote about the incident in his testimony: “We were so close to the enemy that my view of them was filled with images of fire coming out of their 12.5mm machine guns. Everything began to move in slow motion for me at this point. It was evident that we were soon to die. However, God literally shielded us from their bullets.”

Following Desert Storm, Mastriano, who is now a Lieutenant Colonel, served in a number of different capacities in the Army. He served at the Defensive Language Institute and was the Executive Officer of the Middle East School. He served with the famous 3rd Infantry Division at Ft. Steward, Ga. He has deployed to Afghanistan three times with NATO forces. Currently, he is the Army’s Senior Intelligence Officer in NATO Land HQs in Heidelberg, Germany.

In addition to his duties in the Army, Mastriano spent the last several years researching Sergeant Alvin York, the most decorated soldier in US Army history. On October 8, 1918, York, a Christian, led a small group of Americans behind German lines, destroyed two machine gun nests and captured 132 German soldiers. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.

Mastriano had been fascinated by York from a young age. “I watched the SGT York movie with my father when I was young and was struck by this story of a reluctant Christian hero.” Later, Mastriano decided to learn more about York’s actions only to find that no one was quite sure where his heroic actions had taken place. He also learned of another group of researchers that was looking into York’s actions solely to discredit York’s Christian testimony. Mastriano quickly began scouring through both American and German records of the battle. Surprisingly, he found most of the information in German archives. “Everything was in there,” he remembers, “The location of where York fought, the German unit dispositions, etc.” Through his research, Mastriano was able to confirm both the exact place where York’s actions took place and that the hero’s Christian testimony was true.

Mastriano also spearheaded the SGT York Historic Trail, which follows the exact route York and his men took during the battle. The trail opened on October 8, 2008. “The SGT York Historic Trial was my idea to ensure that the powerful testimony of SGT York never again be forgotten or subjected to unfounded criticism from those trying to get a name for themselves,” Mastriano said.

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