MATEJA, ALAN PAUL
|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
Other Personnel in Incident: Orvin C. Jones, Jr. (missing)
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 2018.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-852-6576.
Thank you in advance,
Jerry Crigger, Lt Col, USAF