September 23 2014 Latest news:
Andrew Fitchett, Reporter
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Technical Sergeant Dale Mathews had served in the US Air Force since he was 18-years-old and was making plans for retirement from the US Air Force.
A native of Rolling Prairie, Indiana, the 37-year-old gave half his life to serving his country before being killed “doing what he loved” at Cley on Tuesday.
His cousin, Lorie Deneve-Cowgill, told local news: “He was serving this country so that you and I could go to bed at night knowing that we are free.”
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A student at New Prairie High School, Sgt Mathews had planned to retire in March, according to friends and family.
Plans had been made for a homecoming celebration and Sgt Mathews was looking to settle down in Union Pier, Michigan.
His time in USAF had seen him take two tours of Iraq.
His son, Keelan, 14, said his father was “amazing”.
“I’m real proud of him. He’s an amazing man and I hope to follow in his footsteps and be half the man he was,” he said.
Standing at 6ft 4ins, Sgt Mathews was sound as a big man with a bigger sense of humour.
Cathy Rea and her sister-in-law, Lisa, had known him since school.
“We considered him family. He was Uncle Dale,” she said.
“Super fun guy, full of life, gave everything to everybody. He’d give his shirt off his back, drop everything to be where he needed to be if it was at all possible,” Lisa said.
“You were transferred back to high school, that was the thing. He was supposed to be coming home in two months, and my husband said, ‘Just so you know, when he comes back, it’s gonna be 1996,” Cathy said.
He leaves behind his wife, Kim, two children in Oklahoma and two step-children, according to reports from the US.