William Theodius Mattison, Sr.
October 16, 1916 – January 28, 1951
Class: 42-I-SE
Graduation Date: 10/9/1942
Service # 0792785

William T. Mattison was born on October 16, 1916. He was schooled at the Pine Street School in Conway (Faulkner County) and attended Arkansas A&M College (now the University of Arkansas at Monticello) and Howard University in Washington DC, becoming a rural school teacher before his military service. Mattison graduated from Tuskegee’s flight program on October 9, 1942, as a second lieutenant. Mattison served as operations officer and a member of the famed 100th Squadron in Italy. Mattison also provided leadership to the 302nd Fighter Squadron in March 1943 and was a member of the 332nd Fighter Squadron (Red Tails). He was one of the most decorated Arkansans during any time of conflict, rising to the rank of major and earning the Flying Cross, the American Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal, and two Bronze Service Stars, among numerous other awards for campaigns in Rome, Arno, southern France, the Rhineland, the Balkans, northern France, the northern Apennines, and Po Valley. He was killed piloting U.S. Air Force C-45F “Expeditor” #44-87287 in a weather-related crash near Oak Harbor, Ohio on January 28, 1951, and his remains are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Staff-Sergeant Alfred D Morris, crew chief of the 332nd Fighter Group, 15th Air Force helps Captain William T Mattison into the cockpit of his P-51 Mustang. Photo courtesy American Air Museum in Britain.

Encyclopedia of Arkansas


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