WILLIAM C. MATTHEWS, LT, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

William Matthews '68

Date of birth: February 2, 1946

Date of death: July 16, 1978

Age: 32

Lucky Bag

From the 1968 Lucky Bag:


Loss

William "Shadow" Matthews was lost when the F-14A Tomcat he was aboard crashed into the sea on July 16, 1978. (Note that the date on the page linked is incorrect.) He was a radar intercept officer and a member of Fighting Squadron (VF) 211 operating from USS Constellation (CV 64) off the coast of Southern California at the time.

Shipmate

From the December 1978 issue of Shipmate:

LCdr. William Charles Matthews USN was killed in an aircraft accident while flying in an F-14 fighter during operations from the carrier Constellation on 16 July 1978. Lt.(jg) Patrick J. Kilcline USN '75 was also killed in the accident. Memorial services were conducted at the Airman Chapel, Miramar Naval Air Station, on 20 July 1978.

A native of Wantagh, New York, he was graduated from the Naval Academy with the Class of 1968 and immediately reported for flight training. He was designated naval flight officer in 1969 and joined VF-121 at Miramar, California. From September 1970 to June 1973 he served with VF-151, making two Westera Pacific deployments in Midway. In 1973 he joined Test and Evaluation Squadron Four at Pt. Mugu, California, then returned to Miramar and joined VF-211, completing another WestPac deployment with this squadron in November 1977. He had been awarded 11 Strike/Flight Air Medals, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross during his service.

Sen. S. I. Hayakawa (D.-Cal.) stated in the Congressional Record of 19 July 1978:
"What is it that makes a man want to do those things which LCdr. Bill Matthews and Lt. (jg) Patrick Kilcline and others like them choose as their life's work? They do not do it for the money, nor for the glamour, not for praise or vain glory, all of which are in short supply in the hard, practical world of naval aviation. Certainly it is, in part, a love of flying, and pride in flying the finest aircraft which the skill of their countrymen and their Nation's technology can produce. Perhaps it is partly in the values of duty, service, and love of country first awakened by their family upbringing and education in the early days of their youth, although you could get few of them to admit it. In each man, too, is the individual sense of purpose, known only to himself, which completes the formula.

"There are all sorts of motivations which drive our complex society. One of the indispensable ones is that which seeks to preserve that society, its values, people, and institutions from the depredations of those who would undermine, conquer, or destroy them. The fulfillment of that essential task includes the need for men who are willing to take upon themselves personal hardship, danger, separation from their loved ones, and a myriad of other disciplines associated with their uniquely important craft. There is not and never will be in our free society a substitute for such men or the job which they must do. Someone must always have the watch, someone must always be the sentinel, and someone must climb into a cockpit and launch into the morning sky."

He is survived by his widow Gayle, 13095 Old West Ave., San Diego CA 92129, and two sons; his parents, a brother and a sister.

Remembrances

Captain Gordon I. Peterson, USN (Ret.), '68, collected an incredible set of memories from people who knew Bill in childhood through those who flew with him. Read the full document here. From the introduction:

Bill Matthews was a special man who is fondly remembered to this day by all with whom he came in contact. His classmates from the Class of 1964 at Wantagh High School, N.Y., the Class of 1968 at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., and Navy pilots who flew with him are proud to share their reflections on a truly decent person—a loving husband, father, brother, and son ... and a combat veteran of the Vietnam War who was a willing sentinel in the service of his nation. This remembrance consists of four sections: Reflections by Bill’s high school classmates, reflections by his Naval Academy classmates, a narrative on his commissioned service, and photos taken during Taylor Matthews’ recent visit to the Naval Academy. I extend my sincere thanks to all who contributed so quickly and enthusiastically to enable me to prepare this salute to our good friend and classmate Bill Matthews so that we may help Taylor, Jonathan, and their families have a more complete understanding of the person we knew.

Memorial

A brass plaque in Dahlgren Hall, US Naval Academy, reads:

In Memoriam

LCDR William C. Matthews, USN, '68
LTJG Patrick Kilcline, USN, '75
Lost at Sea July 16, 1978
VF-211, USS Constellation

"There are all sorts of motivations which drive our complex society. One of the indispensable ones is that which seeks to preserve that society, its values, people, and institutions from the depredations of those who would undermine, conquer, or destroy them. The fulfillment of that essential task includes the need for men who are willing to take upon themselves personal hardship, danger, separation from their loved ones, and a myriad of other disciplines associated with their uniquely important craft. There is not and never will be in our free society a substitute for such men or the job which they must do. Someone must always have the watch, someone must always be the sentinel, and someone must climb into a cockpit and launch into the morning sky."

Senator S. I. Hayakawa
Congressional Record
July 19, 1978

Related Articles

Patrick Kilcline '75 was the pilot of the F-14A and was also lost in the crash.


Class of 1968

William is one of 29 members of the Class of 1968 in Memorial Hall.