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Douglas F. Matthews
14 Oct 1938 – 13 Nov 1964
Died in Bangkok, Thailand
Interred in Roseland Park Cemetery,
Berkley, Michigan

Douglas F. Matthews

Class Memorial Pages\I-2 Doug Matthews.pdf

MORE THAN 35 YEARS HAVE PASSED since the tragic jeep accident that took the life of our classmate, 1LT Douglas Frank Matthews — husband of Janice Lynn and father of Carolynn Janice and Scott Douglas. The fatal accident occurred one evening in November 1964, as Doug, classmate Manly Parks, and another lieutenant were en route to Bangkok.

Doug had just begun his unaccompanied tour of duty with the 57th Ordnance Company, 9th Logistics Command, Camp Friendship, Korat AFB, Thailand. The accident report indicated the tires of their jeep caught the edge of the highway shoulder at a road construction site, causing the jeep to overturn. The life of an outstanding officer with an extremely promising future in the Army was taken from us unexpectedly. The accident robbed his family of a loving son, a devoted husband, and wonderful father.

Born to Delores and Frank Matthews in Detroit, Doug made his way to West Point in the summer of 1957 to start a service to his country that would tragically end half way around the world less than four years after graduation. Although Doug was taken from us at a young age, his life was filled with those personal experiences that are so important in all of our lives — wonderful parents, a loving wife, and two beautiful children (Carolynn was 2 years and Scott was 11 months old at the time of their father’s death). He had so much to live for, but so little time to experience the wonderful blessings that were a part of his life.

Doug and Jan Koenig started their courtship as 15- and 14-year-olds. It began in 1953, when Jan’s family moved from the big city of Detroit to the country environs of Southfield. The home across the street held a special interest for Jan, as she was quick to notice a cute, brown-eyed young man paying a great deal of attention to the Koenig residence. As Jan vividly recalls, Doug was fairly shy but definitely appeared to be interested. A woman of the 1990s living in the 1950s, Jan made the first move and, as she has so eloquently states, “it was love at first sight with the beginning of many years of friendship and adventure.’ Theirs was a special relationship that would bring them together as they exchanged wedding vows in the Cadet Chapel on Graduation Day. Doug and Jan were the third couple to walk down the aisle in the Cadet Chapel that day.

During the four years at West Point, Doug proved himself a fierce competitor in academics, physical education, and intramurals. He brought an intensity to the Academy that assured him a successful career in the Army. Sharp as a tack, the consummate academic showed that he was, in fact, mortal — due to his inability to master the basics of the French language. This deficiency was compounded by his failure to convince his French instructor, Monsieur Viollet, that he really was a star man at the top of his class. As usual, Doug overcame the French language barrier and managed to graduate 19th in the class. He always will be remembered by the academically disadvantaged for his ability to unselfishly share his academic prowess during many a late-night session with the goats of I-2 in the sinks of the 44th and 45th Division. As smart as Doug was, he had the innate ability to explain academic concepts and principles to the satisfaction of those classmates and underclassmen struggling to keep from being turned out. A good number of I-2 and K-2 cadets relied on Doug to help them through the academic rigors of solids, fluids, chemistry, and mechanics.

As a cadet, Doug was adept at operating within the bounds of West Point regulations while finding ways to enjoy some of the forbidden fruits that would have caused him to pound the pavement a few hours in Central Area. During our First Class year, well before authorization was given to own cars, Doug had his Chevrolet Impala convertible conveniently parked and ready to roll in front of his roommate’s home in Tarrytown, NY. As Jan and other companymates can attest, the Impala could be seen on a regular basis on the Palisades Parkway going to and from West Point.

Doug, the star man, had his choice of any branch. As he was prone to do, the energetic and dedicated Doug Matthews selected his initial assignment in the Airborne Infantry with the 502nd Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, at Ft. Campbell, KY. After graduation leave, Doug and Jan headed south to Ft. Benning, GA, and in August 1961, Doug reported for the 8-week Infantry Officers Course, followed by Airborne and Ranger schools. After a short stay at Ft. Campbell, Doug was assigned to Thailand. Jan returned to Royal Oak, MI, to patiently wait for her loving husband who was destined not to return. The four years at West Point; the storybook wedding; classmates’ weddings in Long Island, NY, and Kinston, NC; the summer outing at Ida Cason’s Calloway Garden; the trips to Tarrytown, NY — little did we know, that our time with Doug was limited, and we would soon be left with only fond memories of this energetic and dedicated classmate from Southfield, MI. The Doug Matthews legacy continues to live on with his children and grandchildren. In fact, Doug’s roommate during First Class year named his son after Doug.

Doug and Jan’s children, Carolynn and Scott, have settled in Alaska. Scott is an environmental engineering contractor and Carolynn keeps busy raising Doug’s five grandchildren — Jannah, Jacob, Wesley, Kyle, and Jessica.

ASSEMBLY, January/February 2000

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