10 September 2015

Master Sergeant Richard Matte Has Passed

Dick Matte has died. 

It hurt a lot to read Steve Caraker’s email with that news, even though it was sure to come. Dick’s long struggle with illnesses showed strength and bravery beyond what most of us can imagine…heart transplant, heart attacks, the loss of his legs and so much more suffering.

It hurts all of us to lose him, and our condolences to his family. He joins Mayleen Adams, Bob Boyd, Giff, Cliff Turcotte, Mike Lieb, Bill Schindler, General Walker and so many others for whom we cared. His arrangements are here.

Matte made the front page of the Boston Globe last June! He was featured in an article addressing the VA’s reluctance to deal with C-123 Agent Orange exposures and illnesses, and that coverage helped bring the public’s attention to this issue and its resolution on June 19. Secretary McDonald’s welcome decision to provide C-123 veterans our disability benefits was due in good part to Dick’s story told so publicly in the Globe.

Thanks to Arch Battista, John Harris and the Yale Veterans Legal Clinic, Dick's VA claim was honored and benefits established even before the VA decision. He and Paul Bailey are the only two C-123 veterans whose claims were awarded before VA decided to care for all of us.

As his friend Steve Carr wrote, we’ve lost a fellow airman and a good soldier. Dick’s faith grew even stronger with all struggles. Now he rests in the peace he knew was ahead. God Bless.

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