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First Name: Jack

Last Name: Mathis

Birthplace: San Angelo, TX, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: U.S. Army Air Forces (1941 - 1947)



Middle Name: Warren



Date of Birth: 25 September 1921

Date of Death: 14 May 1943

Rank: First Lieutenant

Years Served: 1940 - 1943
Jack Warren Mathis

   
Engagements:
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)

Biography:

Jack Warren Mathis

First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces

Honor of Medal Recipient

World War II

First Lieutenant Jack Warren Mathis (25 September 1921 - 14 May 1943) was a U.S. Army Air Forces officer who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War II.

Jack Warren Mathis was born on 25 September 1921 in San Angelo, TX; he grew up in nearby Sterling City. On 12 June 1940 he enlisted in the Army and served in an artillery unit at Fort Sill, OK, 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 19 March 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 anti-aircraft 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 heroic action was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps, 359th Bomber Squadron, 303d Bomber Group.

Place and date: Over Vegesack, Germany, 18 March 1943.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy over Vegesack, Germany, on 18 March 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.

Sad Note

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.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart

Honors

Jack Mathis' Medal of Honor is on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

The sports and fitness center at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, TX, was named in his honor in 1966.

Mathis Municipal Airport in San Angelo was named in honor of both Mathis brothers in 1988.

Death and Burial

First Lieutenant Jack Warren Mathis was killed in action on 14 May 1943. He is buried at Fairmont Cemetery in San Angelo, TX, in Block 86, Lot 10, Row 1, Plot A.



Honoree ID: 1516   Created by: MHOH

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