Jack Mathis attended school in his hometown and enlisted in the Army in June 1940, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He served for six months with the 1st Field Artillery at Fort Sill, Okla He returned home in early 1941 for transfer to the Army Air Corps at Goodfellow Field, then took training as a bombardier at Ellington Field, Texas, and Victorville, Calif., being commissioned July 4, 1942. He served with bombardier groups at Salt Lake City, Utah; Alamogordo, N.M.; and Biggs Field, Texas.
Lieutenant Mathis went to England in September 1942, for service with the 8th Air Force. He flew as lead bombardier for the 303rd Bomb Group's 359th Squadron and in such capacity made the supreme sacrifice on March 18, 1943, during a mission against hostile installations at Vegasack, Germany Although mortally wounded by enemy anti-aircraft fire, he released his bombs, and as a result of his heroic action, the bombers of his squadron dropped their bombs directly upon the assigned target.
The citation for the Medal of Honor reads. in part: "... His right arm was shattered above the elbow, a large wound was torn in his side and abdomen, and he was knocked from his bombsight to the rear of the bombardier's compartment. Realizing that the success of the mission depended upon him. Lieutenant Mathis, by sheer determination and will power, though mortally wounded, dragged himself back to his sights, released his bombs, then died at his post of duty. ..As a result of this action, the planes of his squadron placed their bombs directly upon the assigned target for a perfect attack against the enemy. Lieutenant Mathis' undaunted bravery has been a great inspiration to the officers and men of his unit."
Jack Mathis had been promoted to first lieutenant less than two months before he lost his life. He also received two Air Medals in combat. Jack Mathis' older brother, First Lt. Rhude Mark Mathis, also serving as a bombardier in Africa and England, asked and received permission to take over Jack's assignment on the B-17 named The Duchess. Mark Mathis lost his life on May 14, 1943, as bombardier on the Flying Fortress named FDA which was hit over Kiel, Germany.
See the full citation from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website.
For additional information, see the National Museum of the USAF.