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First Name: Archibald

Last Name: Mathies

Birthplace: Stonehouse, SCT

Gender: Male

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

Home of Record: Pittsburgh, PA

Date of Birth: 03 June 1918

Date of Death: 20 February 1944

Rank: Staff Sergeant

Years Served: 1940 - 1944
Archibald Mathies

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Archibald Mathies

Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Forces

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Staff Sergeant Archibald Mathies (3 June 1918 - 20 February 1944) was U.S. Army Air Forces airman 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.

Archibald Mathies was born on 3 June 1918, in Stonehouse, South Lanarkshire, Scotland. His parents later immigrated to Pittsburgh, PA.

Mathies enlisted in the Regular Army on 30 December 1940 at Pittsburgh. He was attached to Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, 8th Pursuit Wing, and later assigned to the 36th Air Base Group, Maxwell Field, AL. On 5 March 1941, he was transferred to the 31st School Squadron, Jefferson Barracks, MO, where he remained until 24 March 1941. He was then attached to the 36th School Squadron, Chanute Field, IL, and attended the Airplane Mechanic School, from which he graduated on 1 October 1941.

He departed Chanute Field and proceeded to Mitchel Field, NY, where he served with the 1st Air Support Command and later the 33d Pursuit Group. He was transferred as a member of the 33d Pursuit Group to Morris Field, NC, on 4 December 1941. On 6 February 1943, he was attached to the Army Air Forces Flexible Gunnery School at Tyndall Field, FL, and completed the course in aerial gunnery on 22 March 1943. He then returned to Morris Field and served with the 1st Air Service Command until 12 April 1943, when he was assigned to the 73d Observation Group at Godman Field, KY. On 14 April 1943, he joined the 91st Observation squadron (redesignated 91st Reconnaissance Squadron) at Godman Field. From 25 July to 7 September 1943, he was attached to the 28th Bombardment Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group, at Pyote, TX, and from 15 September to 22 November 1943, he served with the 796th Bombardment Squadron at Alexandria, LA.

He departed the U.S. on 8 December 1943 and arrived in England on 16 December. Upon arrival he was assigned to the 8th Air Force Replacement Depot Casual Pool and was subsequently attached to the 1st Replacement and Training Squadron until 18 January 1944. He was assigned to the 510th Bombardment Squadron, 351st Bombardment Group on 19 January and served with that organization as an Engineer-Gunner until 20 February.

On his second mission, as a flight engineer and ball turret gunner, Staff Sergeant Mathies participated in a heavy bombardment attack on enemy installations at Leipzig, Germany, on 20 February 1944. During this attack, his B-17G bomber (nicknamed Ten Horsepower) was attacked by a squadron of enemy fighters. The co-pilot was killed and the pilot was severely wounded and rendered unconscious. Mathies and the navigator then flew the severely damaged plane back to England, where the rest of the crew parachuted to safety. Mathies and the navigator were ordered to jump, but both refused to leave the wounded pilot behind. After some indecision, they were permitted to attempt a landing. The plane crashed into an open field on the third attempt, killing Mathies, the navigator and the pilot. For his heroism and devotion to his fellow crew members on that date, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U .S. Army Air Corps, 510th Bomber Squadron, 351st Bomber Group.

Place and date: Over Europe, 20 February 1944.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy in connection with a bombing mission over enemy-occupied Europe on 20 February 1944. The aircraft on which Sgt. Mathies was serving as engineer and ball turret gunner was attacked by a squadron of enemy fighters with the result that the copilot was killed outright, the pilot wounded and rendered unconscious, the radio operator wounded and the plane severely damaged. Nevertheless, Sgt. Mathies and other members of the crew managed to right the plane and fly it back to their home station, where they contacted the control tower and reported the situation. Sgt. Mathies and the navigator volunteered to attempt to land the plane. Other members of the crew were ordered to jump, leaving Sgt. Mathies and the navigator aboard. After observing the distressed aircraft from another plane, Sgt. Mathies' commanding officer decided the damaged plane could not be landed by the inexperienced crew and ordered them to abandon it and parachute to safety. Demonstrating unsurpassed courage and heroism, Sgt. Mathies and the navigator replied that the pilot was still alive but could not be moved and they would not desert him. They were then told to attempt a landing. After two unsuccessful efforts, the plane crashed into an open field in a third attempt to land. Sgt. Mathies, the navigator, and the wounded pilot were killed.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart


• A building at Bolling Air Force Base is named in his honor.

• The Airman Leadership School at RAF Feltwell, UK, is named in his honor.

Death and Burial

Staff Sergeant Archibald Mathies was killed in the crash of his aircraft on 20 February 1944. He is buried at Finleyville Cemetery in Finleyville, PA.

Honoree ID: 1515   Created by: MHOH




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