The January 23, 2019 meeting of the Ocala Florida Aero
Club was brought to order by President, Gary Winter. Gary
led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, God Bless America, and
prayer. There were no minutes due to having the Christmas
party in December. Our first meeting of 2019 began with a
great meal and our speaker Major Robert (Bob) Mathews.
Major Mathews enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1956 after
graduating from high school. While serving in Force Recon,
Bob was offered the opportunity to go to Flight School. In
November 1960 2nd Lt. Bob Matthews received his Wings
and Commission with orders to VMF-333, an F-8 Squadron
in Beaufort, SC. In January 1965, Bob took a temporary
assignment as Officer in Charge of the Marine Corps’ only
full-time Parachute Team. His Team was the first US Men’s
Team to ever win an Overall Gold medal in international
As the Vietnam War was heating up, the team was
disbanded seven months later and Bob rejoined VMFA-531.
In March of 1967, while conducting a dawn Line of
Communication check on the southern edge of the DMZ in
the 01, Bob was severely wounded by ground fire and was
evacuated to Great Lakes Naval Hospital, his home for the
next fifteen months. In June of 1968 Bob was given
permission to remain on active-duty, now a Major, Bob
transitioned to the Boeing CH-46 helicopter. Bob retired in
May of 1971 as a Major, Naval Aviator, Naval Senior
Parachutist with fourteen years; eight months active-duty,
twenty-seven months combat time; 3,600 hours flight time,
over 1,000 of those in the Phantom; 1,200 parachute jumps;
The Silver Star, 26 Air Medals, The Purple Heart, Vietnam
Cross of Gallantry with Palm & Frame, Vietnam Cross of
Gallantry with Star, Five Vietnam Service Medals, and his
own B25 Mitchell Bomber.
In 1988 he and his partner Steve Snyder established the
National Parachute Test Center, (NPTC), at X-35, the
Dunnellon Airport. Following the tragic death of his friend
and partner, Snyder, in June of 1999, Bob concentrated on
developing NPTC into a modern test facility. In 2011, at the
request of fellow jumpers, Bob established “X 35 the
Airborne School” to teach Airborne Parachuting techniques.
Bob is organizing and training forty round parachute jumpers
for the 75th Anniversary Reenactment of the D-Day Invasion
in June in France. There will be the final practice jump from
two vintage C47’s, February 23, 2019 with forty jumpers in
WWII era uniforms and equipment, jumping in unison.
Thank you Bob for a wonderful program, I know it was
enjoyed by all who attended.
The 50/50 was won by Ellen Wenk, she won $41.00.
The meeting was adjourned with a first from Steve Rager
and seconded by Steve Wolf.
Sherryl Rager, Secretary
January 23, 2019