Donald John Matocha

Second Lieutenant
United States Marine Corps
31 January 1945 - 05 April 1968
Smithville, Texas
Panel 48E Line 015


Donald J Matocha

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Donald John Matocha

16 Jul 2002

After all these years,
Still Missing In Action, but not forgotten.

Rest in peace, dear brother.

Your Smithville Family

From his sister,
Loretta Matocha Eiben

4 and 5 APR 1968

I am dedicating this to Delta Company, 3rd Recon Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, especially to the recon team DALLAS GIRL, and those who supported the team on April 4th and 5th, 1968.

Let me start by introducing myself. I am Hospital Corpsman (HM3) Stan Sellers. I served with team DALLAS GIRL of Delta Company, Third Recon, from February 1968 until April 1968. I was with team HUNGARIAN from December 1967 until February 1968.

There is no other person in this world that is more proud of the actions of this recon team (DALLAS GIRL) than myself. The Marines that served with this team in April '68 showed me the real meaning of honor and courage on those two days than on any other day in my life.

On 4 April 68, we left Camp Carroll on foot going towards Dong Ma mountain. We were to locate an NVA observation post located just north of Camp Carroll and Highway 9. The OP had been spotting for an NVA artillery and mortar position further to the west on the mountain.

The artillery and mortar tube had been shelling Highway 9 and Camp Carroll with pinpoint accuracy because of the NVA OP position on the south side of Dong Ma mountain. There were several skeletons of supply trucks laying on the side of Highway 9. We passed them at the beginning of our patrol.

We had made our way up three-quarters of the mountainside. Everyone on the team had a nervous feeling in their gut. The Patrol Leader and assistant PL and the Kit Carson scout had been checking on comm wire that had been seen ever since about half way up the mountain. We had expected to encounter the enemy at any time, but we never saw a one of them.

That night we set up a 360 perimeter and set out the claymores. The PL told me to take the first watch, he said he wanted me rested come morning because he had a feeling that we would make contact with the enemy then. I woke my replacement about two hours later, and tried to get some sleep. Nothing happened that night. We woke about 0530 next morning, April 5th.

The patrol saddled up and moved out by 0600, we had not moved but maybe up to edge of the northwest ridge line by 1200 hours. We were seeing more and more signs of where the enemy had been. The PL decided to take a 10-minute break. It had been a hard climb up. The PL and the assistant PL were studying the map and double checking our position.

The Kit Carson scout was about 20 meters ahead of us. The KC scout signaled the PL, the team moved forward in a single-file formation. It was then that the PL saw more comm wire. That is when the PL and assistant PL signaled "enemy ahead."

The patrol leader signaled for me to take a position up farther on the edge of the ridge line. The rest of the team spread out on either side of my position. The PL and assistant PL went down towards the sound of the NVA voices and where the comm wire led to. About then I noticed an NVA soldier about 30 meters above the PL and tapped the Marine in front of me on the shoulder. While I was taking aim he signaled to the PL and the assistant PL that we were going to get into deep shit.

It all happened so fast. About the same time the PL threw a CS grenade into the cave where the NVA were, I fired at the soldier in the sight of my weapon. All of a sudden it seemed like the whole world had exploded into one big fire fight. The NVA regulars were firing from what seemed like every piece of rock, bush or landscape that was there.

The team immediately moved into a 360 position around the edge of an old bomb crater. I was just up on the ridge line when I saw the PL get hit. He had caught a full burst from an AK-47. I started to move towards him immediately. I got about ten feet from the PL and the NVA put a round through my leg. I fell only a few feet short of the PL. Other Marines were also hit.

I tried to reach the PL again but the enemy cut me off with full automatic fire. I looked at the PL from about five feet away; he was already dead. I had to make a choice: try for him one more time, or take care of the other wounded Marines. I moved back towards the rest of the team.

There were two other Marines wounded. I moved towards were the radioman was. He had taken cover in some rocks at the north side of the crater. He kept hollering that he could not feel his legs. The radioman had taken a round across his back criss-crossing his spine. Just as I pulled myself up towards him I felt real weak and dizzy. I fell backwards and passed out. I came to a few minutes later. The assistant PL was yelling "Corpsman up". I tried to get up again and move towards him (the assistant PL). I started to seeing black again. In a last ditch effort I threw my unit one bag towards him.

The next thing I remember is being pulled up a hoist on a CH-46 and a Marine gunner pulled me inside. The rest of the team followed. The other two Marines that were wounded came up next. Then the rest of the team was brought up except for the PL, we had to leave his body behind I was told. The Kit Carson scout had vanished right after the fire fight had started. I never saw him again. The team was flown into Dong Ha to the battalion aid station. From there we all went separate ways.

That is why I say I owe my life to those brave Marines of DALLAS GIRL. I have pledged to myself that I would one day let the world and the United States of America know what happened on April 4th and 5th of 1968 in the Republic of Viet Nam.

The names of the Marines who put themselves in danger above and beyond the call of duty, as far as I am concerned, follow below.

God Bless the Marine Corps

The above story is factually true as far as I can remember. If I have left anything out it is not purposely done.

Stan (Doc) Sellers

Note: Another report of the DALLAS GIRL patrol of April 4-5, 1968, appears in Larry Vetter's book, "Never Without Heroes," pages 224-25.

List of names of Marines that were on that patrol. One patrol member is still missing from the list.

  • Donald J. Matocha, KIA - BNR April 5, 1968
  • Gary Myers
    (Note: Gary was killed in action on May 13, 1968, with Lt Bruce Wilson's Echo Company patrol when they went back after Lt Donald Matocha's body.)
  • Andre Boersma, WIA April 5, 1968
  • Michael D. Cappa, WIA April 5, 1968
  • Leslie Goebel, WIA April 5, 1968
  • Stan (Doc) Sellers, WIA April 5, 1968
  • Michael Kornezos
  • Nickie G. Smith, Sr. WIA April 6, 1968
    (Note: This Marine was wounded the next day going back in with a reaction force out of Camp Carroll after Lt Donald Matocha's body.)

HM3 Stan Sellers' account of DALLAS GIRL
appears on the
3rd Recon Bn site
and is used here with the very kind permission of
Stan Sellers
Jim Jones, webmaster, 3rd Recon Bn.
13 Aug 2004

Donald's body has been recovered and is headed home for a proper burial. I remember him as a gentle person who had a great sense of humor. He was an honest Texas Aggie and an American hero! I am glad he will be buried in Smithville, Texas, so his fellow Aggies can remember him - and thank God for men like him!

From a home-town buddy and Texas Aggie, Class of 65,
Dan Bogart

22 Aug 2004

The funeral for 2nd Lt Donald J. Matocha will be as follows:

       Friday September 17, 2004 at 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Marrs-Jones Funeral Home, 104 Olive Street, Smithville, Texas.

       Saturday September 18, 2004 at 10:00 a.m. at the Smithville Recreation Center, 106 Gazley Street, Smithville, Texas.

       Oak Hill Cemetery, Highway 95 South, Smithville, Texas.

From a friend of the family who served with Donald in Vietnam,
Marshall Johnson

17 Sep 2004



From a friend,
Jan Rinehart, Smithville

24 Sep 2004

Growing up in Smithville I had the privilege of knowing you and your family. I was very lucky to have a second family known as the Matochas.

Thanks for being my friend, fellow student at Smithville, and a fellow Texas Aggie. All Aggies from Smithville are proud of you as your "light" helped guide us all, as it does now. Take care my friend. We shall meet again.

OW (Mike) Craddock, Class of 1966

24 Apr 2005

Donald and I were roommates at Texas A&M from 1963-1965, where we became close friends as we endured our freshman and sophomore years in the Corps of Cadets. Donald was the most disciplined man I have ever known; quiet, soft-spoken, brilliant, his penchant for hard work distingushed him in a crowd of hard workers.

Focused, resolute, steadfast, always gentle and never angry, Donald completed his degree in Civil Engineering in three and a half years at a time when the University was considering making undergraduate engineering a five year course because so few were completing it in the prescribed four. More remarkable was his participation in the Corps of Cadets during those years, an activity that consumed most of the energy of the young men who served with him. Not content to accept a commission in either the Army or Air Force, he spent one of his summers in the Marines' Platoon Leader's Course in Virginia - not exactly a summer vacation - so that his commission would be in the USMC.

After his death in 1968 and my return from Viet Nam, I visited his family in Smithville in October of 1974. His mother, Celestine Matocha, aka "Mother Theresa of Smithville" comforted me about his loss. She told me that Donald had two goals in life; one was to become an Aggie, the other to become a Marine, and he accomplished them both.

Then she told me a remarkable story that confirmed my impression of Donald Matocha as the most disciplined man I would ever know. She told me that after six months in Viet Nam he was given R&R for one week to return home to Smithville, and that minutes before he left home to return to Viet Nam, he took his mother aside to speak with her privately. Knowing the danger of his mission in Viet Nam (and, I believe, knowing his dedication to duty and his love of his comrades) he told her, in quiet, measured, unemotional tones, that he would not be returning from Viet Nam. Donald told his mother that she should not worry for him nor be resentful or bitter about his loss.

Several weeks later, he was dead.

I've often wondered how many people, knowing rationally the danger that they faced and knowing, to a certainty, that they would die in the effort, would travel half way around the world to meet their fate. How many people in that circumstance would instead seek delay, protection, escape or safety?

One who would not was LT Donald J. Matocha, the most disciplined man I will ever know. I miss him to this day.

From a friend from Texas A&M,
George W. Long

14 Jan 2006

The DevilDogs Motorcycle Club had the extreme honor of attending the celebration of 2ndLt Matocha's life. "Standing room only" is a term that did not adequately describe the funeral. Those who came in late stood outside the building, even though it was held at the Civic Center.

The love and honor given to the Matochas and to 2ndLt Donald Matocha were evident by the number of people who gave testimony of the life of 2ndLt Donald Matocha.

Rest in peace, my brother in arms, knowing that a man is not truly dead until he is forgotten and you will never be forgotten.

Semper Fidelis

From a brother in arms,
Jim Rooth

28 Apr 2007

History is the lessons we learn. I was researching Smithville due to a funeral I need to attend and ran across this story. The WWW may promote evil in some circles but enlightenment and truth in others. The LT's story brings memories of a more recent event with smells and feelings and I grieve for his family, us, and the Nation but am pleased he has returned home. Americans who have served will not be forgotten.

Michael Ridgway
GSCM(SW) USN Retired
USMTM, Foreign Military Advisors, Saudi Arabia
11113 Visa Rose, Austin, Texas

16 Jul 2007


My name is Steve Smith (formerly SFC Smith); I was the lead Investigative Analyst for LT Matocha's case at JPAC. I am so glad he finally is home with his family where he belongs. I would also like to thank our Vietnamese witness who is the main reason the LT was able to return home.

God Bless and I pray for a return of all our MIA Service Members.


Steve R. Smith

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Mr. Sellers's account of the DALLAS GIRL engagement is confirmed by the post-patrol report, contained in the 3rd Recon Bn's Command Chronology for April 1968, but some additional details may be of interest. DALLAS GIRL consisted of one officer, seven enlisted Marines, one Navy Corpsman, and one Vietnamese Kit Carson scout. The engagement resulted in seven confirmed NVA dead, one US killed, and four US and the Kit Carson scout wounded. As Mr. Sellers says, the scout was cut off and not recovered with the other patrol members; although wounded, he was able to evade the NVA and was recovered by the patrol which went in on 06 April.

SFC Smith would "like to thank our Vietnamese witness". He no doubt is referring to Nguyen Van Loc, in 1968 a squad leader with the 35th Company, 320th NVA Division. On the morning of 06 April Mr. Nguyen and another NVA soldier, who later was killed in action, buried 2ndLt Machota's body in a bomb crater. Thirty years later, Mr. Nguyen was able to identify the location, leading to the recovery of 2ndLt Machota's remains.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 16 Jul 2002
Last updated 08/10/2009