|Birth: ||Jul. 6, 1972|
|Death: ||Jan. 9, 2002, Afghanistan|
Capt. Matthew William Bancroft: FAMILY MOURNS LOST SON Marine pilot loved serving his country: Newspaper Obituary and Death Notice
Redding Record Searchlight (CA) - January 11, 2002
Deceased Name: Capt. Matthew William Bancroft: FAMILY MOURNS LOST SON Marine pilot loved serving his country
A war half a world away forced Capt. Matthew William Bancroft to miss his 9-month-old daughter first Christmas.
There was no reason to believe there wouldn't be other holidays -- many of them.
On Wednesday, everything changed when a plane Bancroft was flying crashed into a mountainside in Pakistan, killing him along with six other U.S. Marines.
Mourning family members Thursday remembered Bancroft, 29, who grew up in Burney, as a man of morals who had traveled the world and loved flying his giant KC-130.
Tall, straight and proud, said his father, a Navy veteran, in a voice that ended with a sob. That was my son. That's how he went down. Born in Milwaukie, Ore., Matthew Bancroft was just 4 when his family moved to Burney, a mountain town 50 miles east of Redding. It was the perfect town to raise a son, said the pilot's mother. And it was perfect for Matthew, who loved hunting, fishing and camping.
He was so proud of Burney, she said. He called it God's country. Watching U.S. Naval Academy and Dallas Cowboys star Roger Staubach toss touchdown passes, Bancroft made up his mind early to at-tend that academy and be-come a pilot.
If school was any indication, he had the brains for it. By seventh grade, he was taking ninth-grade algebra. By 11th grade, he was taking classes through the University of California at Berkeley. He was a great debater, Beverly Bancroft said, and didn't shy away from arguing grades with his teachers. We were very proud of him, remembered Bancroft's fourth-grade teacher. He was a very talented young man.
But it didn't stop in the classroom. Bancroft played basketball (he was 6 feet, 4 inches tall), baseball and foot-ball, snagging all-league honors. And he was student-body president his senior year. The biggest achievement came in 1990, when Bancroft graduated from Burney High School and was nominated for the U.S. Naval Academy. He was like a little kid, his mother recalled. Just jumping up and down -- 'I made it, I made it!' Just two weeks after his high school graduation, the 17-year-old Bancroft found himself in Annapolis, Md., 3,000 miles from home. But he was ready, his family said. He graduated in 1994 and got his wings in 1996, his father said. The family has a framed self-portrait photograph of Bancroft flying high in the sky, oxygen mask over his face. He had achieved his biggest goal. Everything Matt dreamed of, he did. He was commissioned with the U.S. Marines and saw the world, traveling to Africa, Iceland and Italy. He always said how lucky he was. He said he had the best job in the world. Bancroft's duties with the Marines, set to end in October, were extended, partly due to Sept. 11, his family said. He came home when he could. The last time was for his younger sister's wedding in November. Thanksgiving was the last holiday the family shared together. Bancroft went to the war in December, one month earlier than expected. He wanted to be part of the team, his father said.
We all loved him dearly. He loved his family, took such good care of them. But he loved his country, too. And his country took him.
At Miramar Marine Corps Air Station on Thursday, members of the Raiders, the squadron Bancroft flew with, remembered their friend.
News of the tragedy spread quickly through Burney, a timber town of a few thousand people in eastern Shasta County.
The San Diego Union-Tribune contributed to this report.
Arlington National Cemetery
Plot: Section 60 Site 8015
Created by: Hope
Record added: Aug 02, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 15122465