Thomas W. Matthews

BRANCH OF SERVICE
U.S. Army Air Forces

HOMETOWN
Luling, TX

HONORED BY
John C. Burkhardt, SVC MOPH, Chapter 1919, Austin, Texas

ACTIVITY DURING WWII

O-672-157, MARCH 16, 1942, ENTERED MILITARY SERVICE AS AN AVIATION CADET. FEBRUARY 11, 1943 AFTER TRAINING HE RECEIVED HIS WINGS, QUALIFIED AS A MULTI ENGINE PILOT. HE WAS ORDERED TO THE REPLACEMENT TRAINING UNIT, GREENVILLE ARMY AIRFIELD, SOUTH CAROLINA AND SERVED A YEAR AS AN INSTRUCTOR PILOT. NEXT, HE WAS ASSIGNED AS THE PILOT OF A B-25 BOMBER AND CREW TRAINED FOR OVERSEAS DEPLOYMENT. MARCH 15, 1944, HE WAS SENT TO THE SELERNO ARMY AIRFIELD, ITALY. ASSIGNED TO THE 321ST BOMB GROUP; 57TH BOMB WING; 12TH ARMY AIR FORCE; 448TH BOMB SQUADRON. ON THE NIGHT OF MAY 13, 1944, GERMAN BOMBERS MADE A SURPRISE RAID, TAKING OUT MOST OF THEIR AIRCRAFT AND 50 PERCENT OF THEIR PERSONNEL. ON MAY 23, 1944, FLYING A MISSION OVER SUBIACO, ITALY, THEY ENCOUNTERED HEAVY ANTI-AIRCRAFT FIRE. HE ALONG WITH ANOTHER CREW MEMBER WERE WOUNDED, AN ENGINE WAS KNOCKED OUT; HYDRAULIC SYSTEM AND CONTROL CABLES BADLY DAMAGED AND FUEL TANKS LEAKING BADLY. HE DROPPED OUT OF THE FORMATION AND HEADED FOR FRIENDLY TERRITORY AND GAVE THE ORDER TO BAIL OUT. MOST OF THE CREW BAILED BUT, ONE WAS TOO BADLY INJURED TO JUMP AND A CREWMAN STAYED WITH HIM. THEY WERE STILL CARRYING A FULL LOAD OF BOMBS AND COULD NOT JETTISON THEM. DESPITE HIS WOUNDS HE GUIDED THE PLANE TO LAND AT AN EMERGENCY LANDING STRIP, WITH NO HYDRAULICS, NO WHEELS AND NO FLAPS. THE PLANE SKIDDED TO A SAFE LANDING WITH NO FURTHER INJURIES. BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS: ROME-ARNO; NORTH APENNINES; PO VALLEY; SOUTHERN FRANCE; RHINELAND AND THE BALKANS. DECORATIONS AND CITATIONS: AMERICAN THEATER CAMPAIGN MEDAL; PURPLE HEART MEDAL; DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS; AIR MEDAL WITH 9 OAK LEAF CLUSTERS; WWII VICTORY MEDAL; DISTINGUISHED UNIT BADGE AND EUROPEAN-AFRICAN-MIDDLE EASTERN CAMPAIGN MEDAL WITH 6 BRONZE SERVICE STARS.