VALENTIN G. MATULA, CDR, USN

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Birthdate & Date of Loss

Date of birth: October 5, 1923
Date of death: July 20, 1965
Age: 41

Lucky Bag

1947 Matula LB.jpg

From the 1947 Lucky Bag:

Valentin George Matula

Hallettsville, Texas

Known to us as Big Red. Redski, or just plain Red. this six-foot-three, curly-haired (what there is of it) Texan came to us via the Fleet. Never one to worry much about book larnin', he nevertheless managed to get through with enough to spare. His big love, here on the Severn, was playing baseball or softball. he could put a mean curve on a softball or slug the apple into the bleachers with equal ease. Red is an easygoing, amiable fellow with a well-developed sense of humor and all-around ability: a big man with a big heart.

He was a member of the baseball team.

The Class of 1947 was graduated in June 1946 due to World War II. The entirety of 2nd class (junior) year was removed from the curriculum.

Loss

1947 Matula 1.jpg

From "RA-5C Vigilante Units in Combat" by Robert R Powell:

RVAH-1 lost its commanding officer on 20 July [1965]. Returning from a reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam, the crew successfully landed back aboard ship, only to discover that the arresting gear had been set incorrectly and the wire broke. RA-5C BuNo 151619 ran off the deck and into the water. There was no time to eject, and the pilot, Cdr Valentin Matula, and RAN, Lt Carl Gronquist, were killed on impact. Because of the aircraft's size and weight, arresting gear and catapults worked at maximum limits when operating with the Vigilante, and incorrect settings remained a problem throughout the jet's career.

Valentin was operating from USS Independence (CV 62) at Yankee Station.

He has a memory marker in Arlington National Cemetery.

Memorials

Valentin is among those names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. As his loss was not due directly to hostile action, though, he does not appear in the VIetnam War section of the Killed In Action panel in Memorial Hall.


Class Navigation

Class of 1947
Valentin is one of 27 members of the Class of 1947 in Memorial Hall.
<< James Lahaye '47 Charles Cummings '47 >>