David Linwood MathisCaptain
D TRP, 2ND SQDN, 1ST CAVALRY, 1 FIELD FORCE
Army of the United States
03 September 1945 - 11 March 1970
East Tallassee, Alabama
Panel 13W Line 113
The database page for David Linwood Mathis
Captain David L Mathis (known as 'Pete' to his friends) was attached to D Troop, 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry, 1st Field Force, in 1970. He had earned his wings at Fort Rucker, Aabama, in 1969 and arrived in Vietnam at the end of October of that year. Although qualified as a helicopter pilot, his training was that of an Aircraft Maintenance Officer who headed up the crews that worked tirelessly to keep the birds in the air.
On 11 March 1970, Pete and crew chief SP4 Terry Steiner climbed aboard a AH-1G gunship (tail number 67-15671) to take it up in preparation of a planned maintenance it was scheduled for. There were no known problems with the helicopter, and it was routine for Capt Mathis to take them up and get a feel of its overall operation.
He had just finished firing the guns for a second time when something went wrong. Eyewitnesses remember seeing the gunship tuck violently, then start to recover, when it went out of control and dove straight down. The impact and subsequent explosion had killed both men immediately.
An immediate investigation was initiated, and it became clear that the main rotor had departed the aircraft in flight - and as it left the helicopter it impacted with the tail rotor blades, causing a total loss of control. The resulting impact and devastation of the aircraft eliminated any further investigation to the actual cause, and subsequent research into previous maintenance updates provided no further clues.
From a researcher,
Pete (or as the family called him "Petesy") was my cousin. I was remembering him today and found this site online. All of his immediate family are gone, but his service and his memory still stand.
Rest in peace, Petesy.
From a cousin,
Pete was my first cousin. His family lived next door to us for a long time. He was the only son of Olen and Gussie Mathis. I was an older cousin and Pete was just like my brother. We played together, ate together and prayed together.
Pete graduated from Tallassee High School, Tallassee, Alabama and attended the Community College in Alexander City, Alabama before entering the Army.
He married Patricia Welch, a young lady from Reeltown, Alabama. They had one son who died at birth.
Pete is remembered fondly and often by his cousins, Dean Peters, Winston Mathis and Perry Mathis. He was a Christian and we know we will see him again someday.
Thank you for allowing me to share this information.
Perry D. Mathis
A Note from The Virtual WallThis incident occurred at Phan Thiet. Sergeant Terry M. Steiner was from North Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 20 Jan 2005
Last updated 08/10/2009