1st Lieutenant Thomas Winfred Matthews, Jr. was born on August 11, 1946, and was originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee. He served his country in the Vietnam War in the United States Army with C Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, as an infantry unit commander. His tour in Vietnam began on March 26, 1970. Less than two months later, 1st Lt. Matthews was the victim of an explosion while with his company in Cambodia, on May 13, 1970. 1st Lt. Matthews is memorialized on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Panel 10W, Line 35.

Dear Lieutenant Matthews, For 33 years, you were the only man who was killed in Charlie Company, 2/12 whose name I knew. I’ve thought about that day a lot since then and I’m very sorry you had to die in Cambodia. We didn’t even get a chance to know you. The subscription to the Saber you bought for us still kept coming for the rest of my tour. You were a good officer, sir. I wish you peace L-T and pray you are in the sight of God. – 5-9 Arry
Saturday, November 08, 2003
–Submitted by Richard Hill,¬†Comrade-in-arms

Tommy and I got our bars at graduation Univ Chattanooga ROTC. We were the only two . My mother took a photo of us and sent a copy to his mother. On may 6th my birthday I got orders for Vietnam. I came back to Chattanooga to leave my pregnant wife with her family. Little did I know while I was in Chattanooga they were having Tommy’s funeral. I learned about Tommy’s death when I ran into a medical service Corp officer First Cav (same as my self) at the replacement center in Vietnam. I was coming he was got home. I asked him if he knew Tommy and he told me he had accompanied Tommy’s body back to graves registration. I was in total shock. I got lucky and made it home safely. A couple years ago I thought about Tommy and where he was buried. Once I found the cemetery there were thousands of graves I had no idea where to start looking. I walked for about and hour and finally gave up. I looked up and saw my car and walked a straight line toward my car. I hadn’t walked very far when I looked down and there was his grave. A miracle. For the last two years on memorial day and veterans day we put flags on the grave. Enclosed is a photo we took memorial day 2021. I will never forget his sacrifice and how lucky I was.
–Submitted by Dan Clowere

Tom was Commanding Officer of the Army ROTC Battalion at the University of Chattanooga in 1968. The photo was taken of the seniors after branch assignments were received. Tom is fourth from the right in the photo below, proudly wearing his Infantry Branch crossed rifles.
–Submitted by Frank Griscom

  • Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Date of birth:
  • 11 August 1946
  • Date of death: 13 May 1970
  • County: Hamilton
  • Hometown: Chattanooga
  • Service Branch: Army
  • Division/Assignment: 12th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division
  • Conflict: Vietnam
  • Battles: Cambodia Incursion
  • Awards: Purple Heart
  • Burial/Memorial Location: Lakewood Memory Gardens East, Chattanooga, Hamilton County, TN
  • Location In Memorial: Pillar XXII, Bottom Panel
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