Charlie Matheny, a Northwest control-line combat flier and son of combat
flier Chuck Matheny, was killed in action in Iraq recently.
The Associated Press moved this short item, provided to Flying Lines by Mel Lyne.
STANWOOD, Wash. -- Sgt. Charles E. Matheny, IV, 23, of Stanwood was killed
in Baghdad on Feb. 18 when an improvised explosive device detonated near
Matheny was assigned to the Army's 704th Support Battalion, 4th Brigade
Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, based in Fort Hood, Texas.
The hearts of all control-line fliers go out to Chuck Matheny and family.
Taps will play on Monday...
A long-time friend of Northwest modelers of all stripes, Chuck Matheny,
lost his son Charles "Charlie" E. Matheny, IV in Iraq on Feb.
There was a service for Charlie on Monday, 27 February, at the Price-Hilton
funeral home in Auburn, Wash. Charlie was buried in Tahoma Cemetery following
Charlie had reached the rank of sergeant, his interests and skills dedicated
to diesel mechanics. He was on his second tour in Iraq, although this time
he was stationed in a particularly nasty section of Baghdad, an area where
most of our troops function as Military Police regardless of specialized
His unit was tasked with showing Iraqi forces how to use U.S. weaponry,
the tactics used by the U.S. Army.
Charlie strongly believed in what he was doing and in his unit. The night
he was killed he had volunteered for the hazardous mission, just as he had
done many times. In his unit were those whom are married, most with children.
Charlie would frequently volunteer for dangerous missions so fellow soldiers
could stay in a more secure environment.
While I do not have full details, as Charlie and another soldier drove
by, a cluster bomb was remotely exploded, the bomb having been disguised
by being painted to look like a rock. Charlie was killed instantly. The
other soldier survived, although he was nearly cut in half by the blast,
losing his legs and more.
I understand that not all of you know Chuck Matheny. He is a dedicated
modeler, one whom many of us in this region remember from his involvement
in AMA CL Combat, teaming with Spencer Sheldrew. Although Chuck has not
flown this event for a number of years he remains heavily involved in RC
modeling, with a serious interest in CL still.
One of the areas in which he participates to a high level is RC Combat.
A treasured memory of his son Charlie is the time they spent flying against
each other. During Charlie's military leave prior to his second tour they
literally flew together for days, logging each flight as to duration. The
total of in-air RC Combat ran to over 20 hours!
Some of you will remember the very nasty Chevy Vega which Chuck built
to nearly Pro-Street standards. Small-block V-8 stuffed in there somehow,
rear slicks so large the inner wheel wells had to be removed, this referred
to as "tubbing" as sheet-metal tubs are welded in to allow clearance
for the massive tires.
While the Vega is only marginally legal for street use, quite quick and
far from a daily driver, Charlie built a thoroughly modded Mustang, fed
it lots of nitrous. To the point where he could put his father's Vega on
the trailer at will.
So while Charlie and Chuck--to be perfectly blunt--at times had an adversarial
relationship during Charlie's early years, the young man matured quite well,
the demands of military duty helping immeasurably in this regard.
During the last years of Charlie's life, he and Chuck got along famously,
having many common interests, spending a lot of time together.
For what it's worth, I heard of this tragedy on Friday and from Buzz
Wilson. I asked for Chuck's home phone number. Buzz responded that it might
be a tough phone call to place. My answer, "Damn right, it will be
a difficult call. But Chuck deserves it. He's what we call a Good Guy."
It was difficult, at least in the beginning. But Chuck is very smart
guy in addition to being an all-around good guy. He understands grief and
how simply talking about it with a friend helps to spread the grief around
a little bit, what overt support can mean during the times he is now facing.
I am hoping that as many of us as possible can attend services for Charlie
Matheny. Our attendance will mean a lot to Chuck, of that you can be assured.
For those outside the Northwest few of whom know Chuck or have even heard
of him, I would regard it as a much-appreciated personal favor if you simply
drop him a note concerning the tragic loss of his son, a young man who was
dedicated to the missions he was given, protection of the freedoms we far
too often take for granted.
13713 83rd Avenue N.E.
Arlington, WA 98223
I had never been to a funeral for one so young. Charlie Matheny was 23
years old when killed in Iraq.
I had never been to a funeral where supporters--not one of whom actually
knew Charlie--lined the sidewalk outside the funeral home, holding U.S.
flags, having placed more and smaller flags along the sidewalk, in the planting
I had never been to a funeral service conducted primarily by the U.S.
I had never heard a modeling event--RC Combat--mentioned during a funeral
I had never seen an outlaw biker giving a heartfelt hug to a U.S. Army
I had never attended a military burial service, this conducted entirely
by the U.S. Army.
Truly, it was inspiring.
Even the weather was exactly correct: Overcast, slightly chilly, a light
Modelers were represented. Steve Helmick, Buzz Wilson, Howard Rush, Jeff
Rein and I were there.
Charlie's father, our friend Chuck Matheny, was thoroughly moved and
none too comfortable speaking to the crowd. But he worked through it in
a commendable fashion, with the honesty and openness we have come to expect
Another family representative, while not at ease of course was quite
good. Many anecdotal stories of Charlie's life, delivered in an entirely
appropriate tone. Sad stories, funny stories, a celebration of Charlie's
And Charlie did indeed conduct himself in a heroic fashion while in Iraq.
The act of selflessly volunteering for dangerous missions so his married
friends would be placed at less risk was a common theme for the young man,
not a few incidental acts.
Why would he do this? From those who knew him best, Charlie just could
not have lived with the knowledge that friends may have been hurt or killed
had he not intervened by taking hazardous duty upon himself.
Toward the end of the ceremony there was a short video, accompanied by
Aerosmith playing "I Don't Want to Miss A Thing." Honestly, I
was dreading this. It is so easy to take this kind of presentation clear
over the top.
Not so this time. Quite well done in all ways.
As we left the building the flag-bearing supporters were still out front.
There is something comforting about people first showing up to support a
fallen hero at the beginning of the ceremony and still being there as the
ceremony ends. None of them just phoned it in...
And there was an impressive line of choppers in the parking lot. All
backed up to a curb, angled just so, the easier to seamlessly pull away
in joining the procession to the burial site.
It was pretty obvious early on that the bikers were also there in support
of a fallen hero. And that this was hardly the first time they had seen
The leader of the group was a big, burly man with unkempt hair and beard,
three-up, one-rocker sergeant's insignia on his jacket.
Perfect, just perfect. I was nearly moved to tears at the thought of
the bikers and the supporters in front of the building being there based
upon principle and a very strong sense of patriotism.
The U.S. Army general came from the building, greeted the leader of the
bikers, they exchanged a few words...
One lives a life filled with rules written by others and is obviously
One lives a life based upon his own rules and is also successful.
The contrast could not have been more stark, and yet they were here for
shared reasons, honoring Sgt. Charles "Charlie" E. Matheny, IV.
It was a service which filled the funeral home, and thus the procession
was a long one. Headed up by Charlie's body in the hearse, his family in
stretch limos, the bikers bringing up the rear in a glorious display of
As we left the funeral home, all the supporters in front of the building
and alongside the main street through Auburn, Washington, moved to the middle
of the street, flanking the cars in the precession. One could not possibly
have witnessed this show of support without being moved.
I am thoroughly chagrined to admit that I was slightly suspicious in
the beginning. In this state we have seen the absolutely shameless spectacle
of anti-war protesters making their case during funerals for our soldiers;
I was further moved to suspicion when one of the local television stations
was seen filming and doing interviews.
I was wrong, thank God.
Tahoma Cemetery is a military burial ground and is located in a lightly-populated
Still, this is a route used by funeral processions for the military and
it was with immense gratification that I noticed a man in his late 70s standing
outside his home workshop. He had obviously been working in the shop, but
upon hearing the sirens of the escort service he stepped outside and stood
still, a hand held over his heart.
A small gesture? Possibly. But not to me and not at that point in time.
It is stunning to see the rows and rows of graves in Tahoma.
Even more telling, there were signs of clearing land, planting more grass,
all toward expanding an operation which already seems much too large to
readily comprehend as to the lives lost in defending our great country.
The burial service was conducted entirely by the U.S. Army and seemed
timed to begin shortly after the last of the big V-twins went silent.
Bagpipes, clean-cut men in their dress uniforms, a thoroughly and absolutely
professional ceremony in all ways.
To me, the most impressive act was folding the flag draping Charlie's
coffin. They do this in the hardest way possible you know, the flag held
in the air by six men, slowly, slowly and with painstaking care making each
fold. The folded flag was then passed along the line of bearers, to the
NCO in charge, to the general who then presented it to Chuck.
Another flag was brought forth, draped on Charlie's coffin for a moment
and then it too was folded and presented to Charlie's mother.
While it was small thing, if one took the time to look there were people
making a complete record of the service for the family. Again, thoroughly
professional and respectful; one had to specifically look for the people
with cameras and video equipment to even know they were at work.
I didn't want to hear of my friend's son dying in service to our country.
Strictly speaking, and to be perfectly blunt, I didn't even want to be at
the funeral service or the burial ceremony.
I am so very pleased to have been at both ceremonies.
It really was an incredibly inspiring experience.
Once my heart was filled with the light and
ardor of a friendship;
Moments I can now only treasure,
Then, only happened without a second thought.
I enjoyed our friendship without judgment
And, pray that you now know,
I feel a tremendous loss!
Suddenly, all is over...
Your mortal life has come to an end.
It seems a dream that you have vanished,
never to come back, again.
For you, Charlie, my thoughts are filled with
memories and my heart is edged in black.
Rest in Peace my Brother, My Friend,
For You Will Be Greatly missed,
Sgt. Charles E. Matheny
Until We Meet Again!
Written by: Sgt. Heath (Tiger) Ward ,B Co. 704th, 4th Infantry Div.,
Baghdad, Iraq, Best Friend and Big Brother
A personally pleasing number of you have responded to my first email
by indicating that you will be sending a note to Chuck Matheny.
I thank you for that.
This page was upated April