Mathis, Jack W. (1921–1943)

By: Art Leatherwood

Type: Biography

Published: April 1, 1995

Jack W. Mathis, recipient of the Medal of Honor, was born on September 25, 1921, in San Angelo, Texas, to Rhude Mark and Avis C. Mathis, Sr. Jack and his brother, Mark, were raised in Sterling City. Jack enlisted in the United States Army on June 12, 1940, and saw duty with the Eighteenth Field Artillery at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. After learning that his brother had enlisted in the air corps, Jack transferred and was assigned with Mark to Goodfellow Field in San Angelo. Both were accepted as aviation cadets, trained as bombardiers, and commissioned second lieutenants. Jack was assigned to B-17s and went to the Eighth Air Force in England, where he was assigned to the 303d Bombardment Wing. He flew fourteen missions. On the last of these he was just starting his bomb run as squadron lead bombardier over Vegesack, Germany, on March 18, 1943, when he was hit by a burst of antiaircraft fire. His right arm was shattered above the elbow, and he received large wounds in his side and abdomen. Although mortally wounded, he dragged himself back to his bombsight, dropped his bombs, and then died at his post of duty. As the result of his courage and determination his squadron placed its bombs directly on the assigned target. He was awarded the Medal of Honor "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity beyond the call of duty." Mark Mathis was on the base when the aircraft bearing the body of his brother landed. He requested and received permission to replace Jack in the crew of the Harold Strouse. Though this crew returned to the United States after completing its required tour, Mark stayed on and was killed in action when his battle-damaged B-17 ditched in the North Sea in May 1943. Jack Mathis is buried in Fairmont Cemetery, San Angelo.

Committee on Veterans' Affairs, United States Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863–1973 (Washington: GPO, 1973). Ned Humphries, "In Honor of the Mathis Brothers," Crosshairs: The Official Newsletter of the Bombardiers, Inc., June 1989.
Time Periods:
  • World War II

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Art Leatherwood, “Mathis, Jack W.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 1, 1995