MATA, MANUEL ORTIZ, Staff Sergeant, # 18015556, USAAF
Manuel Mata was born on 3 March 1921 in El Paso, Texas, to Adolfo Mata (1895-1952) and Maria G. (Ortiz) Mata (1901-1965) (both born in Mexico). Siblings included Luis Ortiz Mata (1916-1987), Reynalda (Mata) Rosnack (1924-2008), and Marcelo Ortiz Mata (1926-2007).
After enlisting in the USAAF, he was trained in the maintenance and repair of the mechanical parts of the B-25 Mitchell and earned his crewman wings. He was trained as a gunner. He was sent overseas to China. On 9 January 1945, a B-25H, # 43-4361, assigned to 14th Air Force, 341st Bomb Group, 491st Bomb Squadron, departed the airfield at Yangkai, China, on a combat mission to Kep, Indochina. It was last sighted at about 1556 Z near 21º 52’ North & 104º 45’ East, as it climbed into overcast in mountainous terrain and was believed to have crashed into mountain. It was last seen by 1stLt Heinz H. Templin, 0-757123, 2ndLt Charles H. Aldrich, 0-700684, and 2ndLt Clifford G. Schillinger, 0-765327. 1stLt Templin reported that he was flying up the Red River Valley with one wing B-25H, 43-4361, when the ceiling lowered. He tried to fly under the overcast but due to rain ahead and low visibility, climbed on course. He was unable to contact 43-4361 by radio so he gestured to him to climb. At the above-stated time and coordinates, he climbed and lost sight of 43-4361. They came out of the overcast at 5,000’ and could not contact 43-4361. On 19 May 1945, very reliable information was received that the French found, in the area of Dong Cuong and Maha (21º 55’ North & 104º 40’ East – Yen Bai, Annam (Vietnam), the crashed B-25H, and the remains of the crewmen, who were buried on a hillside near the wreckage by the French, with pieces of fuselage as a marker. Major Bamman of the 69th Air Base Wing has notes on the information. The French military mission in China sent a message confirming the find. After recovery, his remains were buried in the Fort Bliss National Cemetery, El Paso, Texas, on 27 January 1949 (Sec. E, Grave 9281).