Walter H. Mattison began
serving in the US Army Air Corps in 1943 during World War II. An aerial
gunner on a B-24, with corresponding responsibilities of flight engineer, he
flew 35 combat missions with the 723rd Squadron, 450th
One of his first major missions was bombing the Ploiesti oil
fields in Romania in 1944, at that time the Ploiesti oil fields produced the 2nd
largest amount of oil in Europe and 7th in the world. They are
located about 60 miles north of Bucharest. The Romanian government sided with
the Germans in the war and the oil fields produced most of the oil used by the
Nazis to operate tanks and heavy equipment. The allied forces realized how
important these fields were and began an attack in 1942. There were just only
13 aircraft involved and they made very little damage.
The bigger attack was
on January 8, 1943: this time there were 178 aircraft and the Germans were
prepared with extensive anti-aircraft defenses on both the ground and in the air.
Causalities were extremely high; 54 aircraft did not make it back from the
mission and the raid inflicted only minor damage.
Finally in 1944 a constant
stream of bombing did a lot of damage and curt production to 7%. The bombings
ran in 24 hour shifts, so planes were constantly coming and going. His closes
brush with death occurred during these air raids, when flak barely missed his
left side. Thanks to those missions and the crews that few them, the
destruction of the oil fields was pivotal to the ultimate defeat of Hitler.
Walter was discharged
from the Army Air Corps in 1945 after the war with the rank Technical
After the war, he continued with his education and received a
Bachelor of Arts degree from Mercer University in 1953, and a Bachelor of Divinity
from Emory University in 1956. (upgraded to a Master of Divinity in 1972) He
re-entered the service in 1956 in the Air Force, this time as a chaplain. He
served in many locations and was shipped to Vietnam in 1965.
In 1966 he had the
responsibility to construct a chapel at Tan Son Air Base in Saigon. He also
ran a campaign within the States to supply local orphanages in Saigon with much
needed clothing and supplies. The work he did to help the An-Lac orphanage and
the construction of the chapel, helped qualify him for the Bronze Star. He was
promoted to the rank of colonel in 1973, and served in the Air force until
He, and his wife, Gwyn, now live in Austin, Tx. They were married in
1945. They have one son, Ronald, Karen, his wife, two granddaughters, and two
Biography Information courtesy of Walter Mattison