Maj Peyton Spottswood Mathis, Jr

Maj Peyton Spottswood Mathis, Jr

Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama, USA
Death 5 Jun 1944 (aged 29)
Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
Burial Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama, USA
Memorial ID 74635089 · View Source
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Major Peyton Spotswood Mathis, Jr., will be buried with military honors at Greenwood Cemetery at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 3, 2015. The son of Peyton S. Mathis, Sr., and Laura Davis Mathis of Montgomery, Alabama, Major Mathis was a 1932 graduate of Sidney Lanier High School. After earning a chemical engineering degree from Vanderbilt University, where he also played football, Peyton Mathis volunteered as an aviation cadet in 1940.

As a lieutenant, Peyton Mathis was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Silver Star for his World War II Service in Europe and North Africa. Later promoted to Major, Mathis commanded the 44th Fighter Squadron in the Pacific Theater. He was killed in action on Guadalcanal on June 5, 1944.

His immediate family included his sister, Helen Mathis Lutz Cumbus, half-siblings, Warner L. Mathis and Amy Mathis Boswell; nieces, Mary Ann Lutz Hooper and Helen Lutz Perkins and cousins, Mary Eleise Cravey and Lt. Col. John T. Cravey, all later deceased in the years that Major Mathis was missing in action.

Peyton Mathis, Jr. is survived by his widow, Evelyn, half nephews and nieces, Peyton Mathis III, Warner L. Mathis, Jr., Marcia Mathis McCabe and Hazel Mims Mathis and first cousins, Laurette Cravey Kimbrough of the Davis family.

The family wished to thank Mr. Anders Markwarth of Guadalcanal, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the people of the Soloman Islands for their efforts in recovering and identifying Major Mathis.

(This obituary was published in the Montgomery Advertiser from December 31, 2014 to January 1, 2015 and submitted by Sammy (Enfinger) Hawkins, Find A Grave Contributor on January 4, 2015.)

Service to honor Montgomery flier
Marty Roney, Montgomery Advertiser, 11:40 a.m. CST January 2, 2015
Missing Airman

Army Air Force Majoror Peyton S. Mathis, Jr. will be laid to rest Saturday, more than 70 years after he died on a South Pacific Island.

Mathis 28, of Montgomery, Alabama and commanding officer of the 44th Fighter Squadron, died June 5, 1944 when the P-38J Lightning he was piloting crashed in the jungle on Guadalcanal, said Army Sgt. 1st Class Shelia L. Cooper, USA, assigned to public affairs of the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office in Arlington, Virginia.

Crews found the crash site that day but were unable to recover his remains because the airplane was in a dense swampy area, she said. In 2013, the plane was found, along with the remains, said Lt. Col. Melinda F. Morgan. USAF, of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) at Pearl Harbor.

His graveside service is set or 2 p.m. at Greenwood Cemetery, and he will receive full military honors, said his nephew and namesake, Peyton S. Mathis III, also of Montgomery. If the weather doesn't allow the graveside, the service will be moved into White Chapel Funeral Home, Mathis said.

Major Mathis died a hero, said Rep. Martha Roby, whose office worked with the military and the Mathis family to facilitate to identification of the remains and their return.

"Those who witnessed it said Major Mathis was circling the airfield allowing the planes of his command to land safely even though he was low on fuel", she said. "It has taken many decades but Major Mathis is finally returning home to Montgomery, Alabama to be laid to rest alongside his father and brother".

On that day, he was leading a bombing mission against Japanese gun positions in the Shortland/Poporang area of the northern Soloman Islands chain, Cooper said. The P-38 is a twin-engine fighter. He developed problems with his right engine during the mission, which was later scrubbed because of weather conditions over the target, Cooper said.

While returning to Kukum Airfield on Guadalcanal, Major Mathis crashed.

The younger Mathis, born in 1949, never knew his uncle. His father and Major Mathis were half-brothers. Mathis researched the crash more than 10 years using records on file at Maxwell Air Force Base.

"There was never any doubt what happened", he said. "We knew that there had been a crash, and we knew that his remains could not be recovered. I wanted to find out more, so I spent a great deal of time at the archives at Maxwell, going over after action reports and other records".

The story of the finding of the aircraft, almost seven decades later is fascinating in its own right. Anders Markwarth, an Australian living on Guadalcanal, searched for the aircraft in an effort to salvage it, Mathis said.

"We owe him a great deal", Mathis said. "He found the airplane, and when he discovered that there were indeed remains present, he stopped his efforts. He contacted the authorities and that how JPAC got involved".

Major Mathis graduated from Sidney Lanier High School in 1932, his obituary reads. He earned a degree in chemical engineering from Vanderbilt University, where he played football. He volunteered as an aviation cadet in 1940. As a lieutenant, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Silver Star for his service in Europe and North Africa. He was later promoted to Major and commanded the 44 Fighter Squadron in the Pacific Theater.

(Published in the Montgomery Advertiser on January 2, 2015 and submitted by PATTY McFERRIN-BLANTON & JR BLANTON, Find A Grave contributors on Jan 4, 2015).
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  • Created by: Mary Enzor Smith
  • Added: 8 Aug 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 74635089
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Maj Peyton Spottswood Mathis, Jr (23 May 1915–5 Jun 1944), Find A Grave Memorial no. 74635089, citing Greenwood Cemetery, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama, USA ; Maintained by Mary Enzor Smith (contributor 46862968) .