Name: Alan Paul Mateja
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 29 July 1945
Home City of Record: Louisville KY
Date of Loss: 16 April 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 205500N 1064700E (XJ854137)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F105G
Refno: 1828

Other Personnel in Incident: Orvin C. Jones, Jr. (missing)                         

Official Photo

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from one or more
of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.
Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2020.


SYNOPSIS: By February 1972, the North Vietnamese had positioned thirteen
divisions for a spring offensive into the south. Timing this to coincide
with the monsoon season severely restricted U.S. air power due to weather
conditions. Friendly ground forces met for the first time with a North
Vietnamese force equipped with many first-line Soviet weapons, including a
number of new tanks, heavy artillery pieces, anti-aircraft missiles, and
anti-tank missiles. As allied forces fell back, air power was called on to
turn the tide.

The U.S. Air Force response to the invasion was immediate as B52 Arc Light
missions and TACAIR attacks intensified during brief respites in the
weather. Since the intensity of ground combat was high, it became clear that
an aggressive air-interdiction program would have a decisive impact in
preventing resupply and rearmament of the communist troops. The invasion was
checked, but the lessons were learned and interdiction programs were
instituted. The effort lead to Operation Freedom Train against targets south
of the 20th Parallel, and later to Freedom Porch Bravo against targets in
the Hanoi/Haiphong area.

The first wave of Freedom Porch Bravo strikes began in the predawn hours of
April 16, 1972 and  achieved respectable success over the highest threat
areas within North Vietnam. Fifteen Navy A6As struck SAM sites in the
Haiphong area and 20 Air Force F4s laid a chaff corridor to screen the B52s'
entry into the threat zones. With Air Force and Navy providing MIGCAP, SAM
suppression, and ECM support, 17 B52s attacked the Haiphong Petroleum
Products Storage area.

The second and third waves, composed of TACAIR assets, followed up with
attacks on ten other targets in the Hanoi/Haiphong areas. Enemy reaction to
the strike penetrations were formidable, but largely ineffective. Even
though more than 250 SAMs were launched and heavy anti-artillery fire was
reported, only two TACAIR losses occurred. Two Air Force personnel were
missing as a result.

The F105G, flown by Capt. Alan P. Mateja, crashed in the Haiphong Harbor
area. The weapons/systems officer on the aircraft was Capt. Orvin C. Jones,
Jr. The Air Force believed there was a possibility that both crewmen escaped
the crippled aircraft, and they were declared Missing in Action.

When the war ended, and 591 Americans were released from prisons in Hanoi,
Mateja and Jones were not among them. Military officials were dismayed that
hundreds of known or suspected prisoners had not been released.

It is unlikely that the Mateja and Jones aircraft would have escaped the
attention of the many North Vietnamese soldiers defending the Haiphong
Harbor. There is every reason to believe that the Vietnamese could tell us
what happened to Mateja and Jones on April 16, 1972. Alive or dead, they are
Prisoners of War.

Alarmingly, evidence continues to mount that Americans were left as
prisoners in Southeast Asia and continue to be held today. Unlike "MIAs"
from other wars, most of the nearly 2500 men and women who remain missing in
Southeast Asia can be accounted for. Mateja and Jones could still be alive.
It's time we brought our men home.


June 10, 2018
Newsletter of the River Rats


Seeking Information on Maj Mateja
I am reaching out to gain some information and spread the word. I am the current commander of AFROTC Detachment 295, University of Louisville. Capt Alan "Mutt" Mateja was a Distinguished Graduate from the University of Louisville in 1968. He went on to Laredo AFB for pilot training, winning the Air Training Command Commander's Trophy and was qualified in the F-105 in Jun 1970. He completed the Wild Weasel Course in Feb 1972, Wild Weasel #1029. He was assigned to 17 Wild Weasel Squadron at Korat. On 16 April 1972, he and Capt Orvin Jones, as Suntan 02, and conducted a night SAM suppression mission over the Haiphong Province in North Vietnam. They were shot down and declared Missing in Action. They were two of our country's last 50 MIA during the war and Kentucky's last MIA. He was declared dead 1 February 1980. He left behind a wife and two sons. One of which was born only a month before his loss and he was unaware of.

Maj Alan Mateja (posthumously promoted) was "lost" by the university and ROTC detachment at some point over the years. An alum brought his story to our attention and we are working to ensure that he will not be forgotten by renaming our gym in his honor. Towards this end, if you have any stories or information you would like to share please let us know. Additionally, we have coordinated with the family to have a ceremony and unveil a plaque and display case on 22 September 2018. If you would like to attend the ceremony, we would be honored to have you there.

Please feel free to contact us at or 502-852-6576.

Thank you in advance,

Jerry Crigger, Lt Col, USAF


Plaque that will go with the Flag of Valor that was donated by the Billy Sparks Pack

Display case in remembrance of Maj. Alan Mateja
Maj. Alan Mateja University of Louisville Gym Dedication

The Billy Sparks Pack participated in the dedication of the University of Louisville ROTC gym in the memory of Maj. Alan Mateja on 22 Sep 18. The gym is located on UofL's campus in Dougherty Hall, home to both the Army and Air Force ROTC units.

AF ROTC Det. 295 PAS, Lt. Col. Pete Day welcomed attendees, including members of the Mateja family, the past Det. 295 PAS, UofL President Dr. Neeli Bendapudi, Heather French Henry and approximately 60 guests.

Dr. Bendapudi spoke briefly about how the dedication affected her personally. Then former Det. 295 PAS, Lt. Col. Jerry Crigger gave the background story regarding the project, including the various obstacles encountered along the path. His emotional connection to Alan was obvious, and there wasn't a dry eye in the crowd while he was speaking. Sierra Hotel, Jerry.

Lt. Col. Day then presented the plaque which will be placed in the display case in Dougherty Hall's main hallway.

Billy Sparks Pack member Will Ashlock, representing the River Rats, presented a Flag of Valor. The flag will be hung on the wall next to the new display case above the reading bench. Will, who is personal friends with the Mateja family, gave a heartfelt presentation, which once again brought the crowd to tears. Two of Alan's grandsons then unveiled the Flag of Honor.

Heather French Henry spoke next of her year as Miss America (2000), during which time she honored Alan's memory by wearing his POW-MIA bracelet as part of her platform of recognizing and assisting veterans. At the end of her year, she placed the bracelet at the foot of the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial. She also spoke of her ongoing support of veterans and of the honor of being named the Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veteran Affairs in 2014.

Finally, Alan's wife, Carolyn gave a moving memoir of Alan, and shared how much this means to her and the entire family. Alan's two sons concluded with a few words.
The Mateja family joined together

For more information and photos on the ceremony and about Maj. Alan Mateja, visitthe pack website at:

Craig "Pontiff" Pope
Billy Sparks Pack LFC




Return to Service Member Profiles

On April 16, 1972, a F-105G Thunderchief (tail-number 63-8342, call sign "Suntan 02") with two crew members took part in a two-plane surface-to-air missile suppression mission over North Vietnam. When the flight arrived at the refueling point en route to the target, the flight leader instructed ‘Suntan 02” to attempt to reach the mission area as soon as possible, to assist aircraft already there. After leaving the refueling point, "Suntan 02” was not seen or heard from again. Both members of its crew remain unaccounted for.

Captain Alan Paul Mateja, who joined the U.S. Air Force from Kentucky, was a member of the 17th Wild Weasel Squadron, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing. He was a crew member aboard “Suntan 02” when it went missing, and was lost with the aircraft. His remains were never recovered. After the incident, the Air Force promoted Capt Mateja to the rank of Major (Maj). Today, Major Mateja is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Non-recoverable.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, DPAA can provide you with additional information and analysis of your case. Please contact your casualty office representative.

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