|1LT Jack W. Mathis, USAAF|
1LT Mathis located Far Right, Back Row
|Born||September 25, 1921|
|Died||March 18, 1943(aged 21)|
|Place of birth||San Angelo, Texas|
|Place of death||Vegesack, Germany|
|Place of burial||Fairmont Cemetery in San Angelo, Texas|
|Service/branch||United States Army Air Forces|
|Years of service||June 1940 - March 1943|
|Unit||359th Bombardment Squadron, 303rd Bomb Group (Heavy)|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Medal of Honor |
Jack Warren Mathis (September 25, 1921 – March 18, 1943) was a United States Army Air Forces officer and a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the United States military's highest decoration, for his actions in World War II.
Mathis was born on September 25, 1921, in San Angelo, Texas, and grew up in nearby Sterling City. He enlisted in the Army on June 12, 1940, and served in an artillery unit at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, until he learned that his brother Mark had enlisted in the then-U.S. Army Air Corps.
Mathis transferred into his brother's unit and began aviation cadet training at Goodfellow Field in San Angelo. Both were trained as bombardiers and commissioned as Second Lieutenants upon graduation. Jack Mathis was assigned to the 303d Bombardment Group of the Eighth Air Force in England, where he flew 14 missions.
On March 19, 1943, Mathis was lead bombardier on a mission over Vegesack, Germany. As lead bombardier it was his responsibility to direct the bombing of the entire squadron. An exploding antiaircraft shell sent fragments into Mathis' plane, shattering his right arm and severely wounding him in the right side and abdomen. Despite being mortally wounded, Mathis propped himself over the Norden bombsight, located the target and dropped his bombs. He died at his post, but had directed the mission's bombing with great precision, and for his actions was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Mark Mathis was on base when the plane carrying his brother's body landed after the mission. At his own request, Mark Mathis was transferred into Jack Mathis' crew to replace him as bombardier. When the crew completed its tour of duty, Mark Mathis stayed in combat and was killed in action over the North Sea in May 1943. Jack Mathis is buried in Fairmount Cemetery in San Angelo, Texas, and his Medal of Honor is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. The sports and fitness center at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas was named in his honor in 1966. Mathis Municipal Airport in San Angelo was named in honor of both Mathis brothers in 1988.
Medal of Honor citationEdit
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps, 359th Bomb Squadron, 303d Bomb Group. Place and date: Over Vegesack, Germany, March 18, 1943. Entered service at: San Angelo, Tex. Born: September 25, 1921, San Angelo, Tex. G.O. No.: 38, July 12, 1943.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy over Vegesack, Germany, on March 18, 1943. 1st Lt. Mathis, as leading bombardier of his squadron, flying through intense and accurate antiaircraft fire, was just starting his bomb run, upon which the entire squadron depended for accurate bombing, when he was hit by the enemy antiaircraft fire. His right arm was shattered above the elbow, a large wound was torn in his side and abdomen, and he was knocked from his bomb sight to the rear of the bombardier's compartment. Realizing that the success of the mission depended upon him, 1st Lt. Mathis, by sheer determination and willpower, though mortally wounded, dragged himself back to his sights, released his bombs, then died at his post of duty. As the result of this action the airplanes of his bombardment squadron placed their bombs directly upon the assigned target for a perfect attack against the enemy. 1st Lt. Mathis' undaunted bravery has been a great inspiration to the officers and men of his unit.
- ↑ "Jack W. Mathis, Medal of Honor recipient". World War II (M-S). U.S Army Center of Military History. June 8, 2009. http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/wwII-m-s.html. Retrieved December 10, 2007.
- "Jack W. Mathis". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7869612. Retrieved December 10, 2007.
- "Jack W. Mathis, Medal of Honor recipient". World War II (M-S). U.S Army Center of Military History. June 8, 2009. http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/wwII-m-s.html. Retrieved December 10, 2007.
- "Above and Beyond: The Medal of Honor in Texas," Capitol Visitors Center, State Preservation Board of Texas. Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association, University of Texas, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/MM/fmava.html. September 26, 2005.
- Hell's Angels: 303rd Bomb Group Association, http://303rdbg.com/h-moh.html, November 15, 2005. Wings of Valor II, http://www.homeofheros.com/wings/part2/05_mathis.html, October 12, 2005.
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