Archibald Mathies

Archibald Mathies (June 3, 1918 – February 20, 1944) posthumously received the Medal of Honor as an enlisted member of the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II.

Archibald Mathies
BornJune 3, 1918
Stonehouse, Scotland, UK
DiedFebruary 20, 1944 (aged 25)
Polebrook, England, UK
Place of burial
Finleyville Cemetery, Finleyville, Pennsylvania, U.S.
AllegianceUnited States United States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army Air Forces
Years of service1940 – 1944
RankStaff Sergeant
Unit510th Bombardment Squadron, 351st Bombardment Group
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsMedal of Honor
Purple Heart



Born Archibald Collins Hamilton, June 3, 1918, in Stonehouse, South Lanarkshire, Scotland, he emigrated with his mother and step-father to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States.

Military career

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

He departed Chanute Field and proceeded to Mitchel Field, New York, 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, North Carolina, on December 4, 1941. On February 6, 1943, he was attached to the Army Air Forces Flexible Gunnery School at Tyndall Field, Florida, and completed the course in aerial gunnery on March 22, 1943. He then returned to Morris Field and served with the 1st Air Service Command until April 12, 1943, when he was assigned to the 73d Observation Group at Godman Field, Kentucky. On April 14, 1943, he joined the 91st Observation squadron (redesignated 91st Reconnaissance Squadron) at Godman Field. From July 25 to September 7, 1943, he was attached to the 28th Bombardment Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group, at Pyote, Texas, and from September 15 to November 22, 1943, he served with the 796th Bombardment Squadron at Alexandria, La.

He departed the United States on December 8, 1943, and arrived in England on December 16. Upon his 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 January 18, 1944. On January 19, 1944, he was assigned to the 510th Bomb Squadron, 351st Bomb Group, based at RAF Polebrook, England, as an Engineer-Gunner. He was promoted to staff sergeant February 17, 1944. Three days later, on his second mission, Staff Sergeant Archibald Mathies lost his life while attempting to land his damaged B-17 after a heavy bomb attack on enemy installations at Leipzig Germany, for which he received the Medal of Honor.

(Taken from U.S. Air Force Biography)[1]

Mathies Manor plaque 02
Plaque at Mathies Manor

One of the Temporary Lodging units at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling is named in his honor.

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

The Noncommissioned Officer Academy at RAF Upwood, UK was named in his honor.

The Noncommissioned Officer Academy at Keesler AFB, MS is named in his honor.

The bridge on Truemper Drive crossing Military Highway at Lackland Air Force Base, TX is named in his honor.

The USCIS Dallas District Office is named in his honor.

The Mathies Coal Company in Pittsburgh, PA was named in his honor.

Archibald Mathies' Medal of Honor is on display at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Medal of Honor mission

On his second combat mission, on February 20, 1944, Sergeant Mathies participated in an attack on Leipzig, Germany. During this raid, along with 2d Lt. Walter E. Truemper aboard B-17G 42-21763, Markings TU:A, nicknamed Ten Horsepower, the co-pilot was killed and the pilot severely injured. Mathies and the navigator flew the crippled plane back to England, where the rest of the crew jumped (parachuted)to safety. Mathies and the navigator were ordered to jump, but both refused to leave the pilot behind. After some indecision, they were permitted to attempt a landing. The plane crashed into an open field on the third attempt, killing all aboard.

Medal of Honor 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 February 20, 1944. The aircraft on which Sgt. Mathies was serving as flight engineer and ball turret gunner was attacked by a squadron of enemy fighters with the result that the co-pilot 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.

See also


  1. ^ Fact Sheets : SSgt. Archibald Mathies : SSgt. Archibald Mathies Archived September 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine


  • Freeman, Roger A. The Mighty Eighth (1993 edition), (p. 270). ISBN 0-87938-638-X

External links

351st Missile Wing

The 351st Missile Wing is an inactive United States Air Force unit, which was last based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Assigned to Strategic Air Command for most of its existence, the wing supported LGM-30F Minuteman II ICBMs. It was inactivated in 1995.

During World War II, its predecessor unit, the 351st Bombardment Group was a VIII Bomber Command B-17 Flying Fortress unit in England. Assigned to RAF Polebrook in early 1943, the group's 504th Bomb Squadron made 54 consecutive missions on June 1943 to January 1944 without losses. Two members of the 351st Bombardment Group, 2d Lt Walter E. Truemper and S/Sgt Archibald Mathies, were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on a mission to Leipzig, Germany, 20 February 1944.

The 351st was also the unit to which Captain Clark Gable was assigned. Gable flew five combat missions, including one to Germany, as an observer-gunner in B-17 Flying Fortresses between 4 May and 23 September 1943, earning the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts.

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engined heavy bomber developed in the 1930s for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 bombers, the Boeing entry (prototype Model 299/XB-17) outperformed both competitors and exceeded the air corps' performance specifications. Although Boeing lost the contract (to the Douglas B-18 Bolo) because the prototype crashed, the air corps ordered 13 more B-17s for further evaluation. From its introduction in 1938, the B-17 Flying Fortress evolved through numerous design advances, becoming the third-most produced bomber of all time, behind the four-engined B-24 and the multirole, twin-engined Ju 88.

The B-17 was primarily employed by the USAAF in the daylight strategic bombing campaign of World War II against German industrial and military targets. The United States Eighth Air Force, based at many airfields in central, eastern and southern England, and the Fifteenth Air Force, based in Italy, complemented the RAF Bomber Command's nighttime area bombing in the Combined Bomber Offensive to help secure air superiority over the cities, factories and battlefields of Western Europe in preparation for the invasion of France in 1944. The B-17 also participated to a lesser extent in the War in the Pacific, early in World War II, where it conducted raids against Japanese shipping and airfields.From its prewar inception, the USAAC (by June 1941, the USAAF) promoted the aircraft as a strategic weapon; it was a relatively fast, high-flying, long-range bomber with heavy defensive armament at the expense of bombload. It developed a reputation for toughness based upon stories and photos of badly damaged B-17s safely returning to base. The B-17 dropped more bombs than any other U.S. aircraft in World War II. Of approximately 1.5 million tons of bombs dropped on Nazi Germany and its occupied territories by U.S. aircraft, over 640,000 tons were dropped from B-17s. In addition to its role as a bomber, the B-17 was also employed as a transport, antisubmarine aircraft, drone controller, and search-and-rescue aircraft.

As of October 2019, 9 aircraft remain airworthy, though none of them were ever flown in combat. Dozens more are in storage or on static display. The oldest of these is a D-series flown in combat in the Pacific and the Caribbean.

List of Medal of Honor recipients for World War II

This is a list of Medal of Honor recipients for World War II. The Medal of Honor was created during the American Civil War and is the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces. The recipient must have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an "enemy of the United States" or an "opposing foreign force". Due to the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously.World War II, or the Second World War, was a global military conflict, the joining of what had initially been two separate conflicts. The first began in Asia in 1937 as the Second Sino-Japanese War; the other began in Europe in 1939 with the German and Soviet invasion of Poland. This global conflict split the majority of the world's nations into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis powers.

The United States was drawn into World War II on December 8, 1941, a day after the Axis-member Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Honolulu that killed almost 2,500 people in what was considered the biggest peacetime loss on American soil inflicted by foreign people at that time.

For actions during World War II, 472 United States military personnel received the Medal of Honor. Seventeen of these were Japanese-Americans fighting in both Europe and the Pacific, many of which were upgraded from Distinguished Service Crosses during the Clinton administration. Additionally, Douglas Albert Munro was the only serviceman from the United States Coast Guard in United States military history to receive the Medal for his actions during the war.

The earliest action for which a U.S. serviceman earned a World War II Medal of Honor was the attack on Pearl Harbor, for which 17 U.S. servicemen were awarded a Medal, although they did so "while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force" rather than "enemy" since the United States was neutral during the events of December 7, 1941. The last action to earn a contemporaneous Medal of Honor prior to the August 15, 1945, end of hostilities in World War II, were those of Melvin Mayfield, on July 29, 1945 – though several honorees may have been cited for their Medal after Mayfield's recognition on May 31, 1946. Additionally, seven African Americans and twenty-two Asian American veterans who had received the Distinguished Service Cross during the war were awarded the Medal of Honor in 1997 and 2000 – most of them posthumously – after two studies determined that racial discrimination had caused them to be overlooked at the time.

List of foreign-born Medal of Honor recipients

The Medal of Honor was created during the American Civil War and is the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces. The recipient must have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an enemy of the United States. Due to the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously.

Although Medals of Honor can be awarded only to members of the U.S. armed forces, being a U.S. citizen is not a prerequisite for eligibility to receive the medal. Since the American Civil War, hundreds of people born outside the United States have received the medal, the most recent of these recipients being Pedro Cano and Jesus S. Duran who received their medals in March 2014 for actions performed during World War II and the Vietnam War respectively. The large number of foreign-born recipients during the 19th and early 20th centuries was mostly due to immigration waves from Europe.

List of people from Pittsburgh

This article contains a list of notable people who were born or lived a significant amount of time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The city of Pittsburgh is the second-largest city and the center of the second largest metro area in the U.S. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


Mathies is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

A'dia Mathies (born 1991), American basketball player

Archibald Mathies (1918–1944), United States Army Air Forces soldier and Medal of Honor recipient

Paul Mathies (1911–?), German footballer

RAF Polebrook

Royal Air Force Station Polebrook or more simply RAF Polebrook is a former Royal Air Force station located 3.5 miles (5.6 km) east-south-east of Oundle, at Polebrook, Northamptonshire, England. The airfield was built on Rothschild estate land starting in August 1940.

It was from Polebrook that the United States Army Air Forces' Eighth Air Force carried out its first heavy bomb group (Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress) combat mission on 17 August 1942, and from which Major Clark Gable flew combat missions in 1943.

Walter E. Truemper

Walter Edward Truemper (October 31, 1918 – February 20, 1944) was a United States Army Air Forces officer in World War II and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor. He and his crewmate, Staff Sergeant Archibald Mathies, were posthumously awarded the medal for attempting to save the life of their wounded pilot by staying aboard and trying to land their damaged aircraft. Truemper, Mathies, and the pilot were killed when the aircraft crashed following a third unsuccessful landing attempt.


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