Matero, Christopher A. (P3, C1, L26)
Technical Sergeant Christopher Alan Matero, 31, of Greenville, Indiana, a Combat controller for the 123rd Special Tactics Flight of the Kentucky Air National Guard, died from injuries sustained in a US Air Force MC-130H crash during a training flight in Puerto Rico, 7 August 2002. Matero was training in Title 32 Status at the time of the incident.
On Wednesday 7 August 2002 a Lockheed MC-130H four-engine turboprop Combat Talon II number 90-0161 went down in heavy fog and rain during a nighttime training flight from Naval Air Station (NAS) Roosevelt Roads in Puerto Rico to Borinquen Air National Guard Base on the west coast of Puerto Rico. The training flight was scheduled to fly segments of two low-level routes used by the Puerto Rico Air National Guard. After cresting a ridgeline, the aircraft began a descent using terrain-following instruments. The investigation found that the flight crew appeared to have misinterpreted a terrain obstacle warning tone believing the equipment detected a patch of dense weather rather than a solid object. Weather during the flight included periodic fog and low visibility. The crew eventually pulled up, but it was too late to avoid the second ridge. The aircraft crashed at 20:50 hours on Monte Perucho, a mountainside near Caguas, 20 miles south of San Juan.
In addition to Technical Sergeant Christopher A. Matero; the following also perished in the incident: Martin A. Tracy, Combat Controller, Kentucky Air National Guard; Major Michael J. Akos, Aircraft Commander, 16th Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field, Florida; Gregory W. Fritz, Navigator, 16th Special Operations Wing; Captains Christel A. Chavez, Pilot, 16th Special Operations Wing; Panuk P. Soomsawasdi, Special Tactics Liaison Officer, Special Operations Command; First Lieutenant Nathanial D. Buckley, Electronic Weapons Officer, 16th Special Operations Wing; Robert S. Johnson, Flight Engineer, 16th Special Operations Wing; Staff Sergeant Robert J. McGuire Jr., Loadmaster, 16th Special Operations Wing; and Staff Sergeant Shane H. Kimmett, Direct Support Operator assigned to Air Intelligence Agency, based in San Antonio.
Matero joined the active duty Air Force in 1992. Matero went through combat control training at Keesler Air Force Base in 1993 earing his Combat Control beret after completing the rigorous training. He was then assigned to the 314th Combat Control Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, until 1997. Sgt Matero was next assigned as a Combat Control Instructor in the 342nd Training Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, where he served until joining the Air National Guard in May 2001.
Matero left active duty in 2001 to serve in the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, Kentucky National Guard. That year, he was on temporary duty in Morocco when the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place. Soon after he returned, he and his unit were called to active duty and deployed to Afghanistan, where he earned the Bronze Star in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
During his OEF deployment, Sgt Matero ran airfield operations key to the infusion of combat forces fighting the war on terrorism and the introduction of humanitarian aid critical to the survival of noncombatants in the region.
Shortly after completing his OEF mission, Matero deployed in support of Special Operations Command-South, Puerto Rico, to augment vital ongoing operations in that location.
Recognized for his leadership potential, he was selected for commissioning as an officer with the 123d Special Tactics Squadron.
Sgt Matero's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Air Force Achievement Medal. Matero once accidentally parachuted onto the roof of a Wal-Mart store, calling it a “bad spot,” a friend said. Matero, a native of Lagrangeville, N.Y., was a wrestler and a powerlifter in high school. In 1993.
He earned a Community College of the Air Force associate degree in airway science in 1998 and a bachelor's degree in criminal justice administration from Campbell University in 2001.
Matero is buried in the St. Denis Cemetery in Hopewell Junction, New York.
Matero Drive, Pope Air Force Base
From left, Senior Master Sgt. Tom Deschane, Chief Master Sgt. Jon Rosa, Master Sgt. Wes Brooks and Capt. Sean McClane stand at Pope Air Force Base’s Matero Drive. (Photo courtesy of Chief Master Sgt. Jon Rosa, Kentucky Air National Guard)
Matero Hall is headquarters for the 81st Training Group.
Matero Hall, Keesler AFB’s newest technical training facility was dedicated in memory of Tech. Sgt. Christopher Matero, who graduated from combat control training at Keesler.
The Christopher Matero Communications Award is given by the 342nd Training Squadron at Pope Air Force Base to a combat control graduate who demonstrates exemplary tactical situational awareness in a combat environment.