The Airlift/Tanker Association salutes the life and legacy of founding member Colonel Jimmy Maturo, USAF (Retired), who took his final flight into the wild blue yonder at the age of 85 in Niceville, Florida on May 24, 2016. In 1969, then-Major Maturo played a key role in organizing a reunion of those who had served with the 834th Air Division in Vietnam, from which emerged the Airlift Association and its successor, the Airlift/Tanker Association. As a founding member, Colonel Maturo continued to actively support the organization for over 46 years, most recently attending its 2015 convention.
“The A/TA family is saddened at the loss of one of our founding fathers last week, Colonel Jimmy Maturo. It’s always tough to lose a part of our history, but Colonel Maturo’s love for our organization will live on in our hearts. May he rest in peace.”
– A/TA Chairman General Art Lichte, USAF (Retired)
Colonel Maturo was born in Nashville, Tennessee on September 13, 1930 to Frank and Rose Mary Lewis Maturo. After graduating from high school in Georgetown, Kentucky, Maturo enlisted in the Air Force and served for four years, after which he returned to the University of Kentucky and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. While there, he served as the Cadet Wing Commander of the Air Force ROTC unit before being commissioned in 1956.
Following pilot training in Arizona, Colonel Maturo was assigned to the 44th Air Refueling Squadron at Chennault AFB, Louisiana flying KC-97s in Strategic Air Command (SAC). Two years later, he was transferred to SAC’s 17th Air Division at Whiteman AFB, Missouri. In July 1963, he moved to the 3902nd Operations Squadron at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, where he flew T-33, T-39 and KC-97 aircraft, plus served as a flight instructor, evaluator and conducted ground training schools.
Beginning in August 1965, Maturo attended the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. His association with tactical airlift began shortly thereafter, with him eventually flying C-7s, C-123s and C-130s. From October 1966 to November 1967, Col Maturo flew 293 combat missions for a total of 371 combat flying hours while assigned to the 19th Air Commando Squadron at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam. He also served as special assistant to the commander of the 834th Air Division and flew combat missions in fighter and forward air control aircraft assigned to Vietnam.
From Vietnam, Colonel Maturo was assigned to the Pentagon as a special assistant to the director of Operational Requirements and Development Plans. In February 1976, he was assigned to be aide de camp to the Twenty Second Air Force Commander at Travis AFB, California. Later that year, he became chief of the Airlift Control Element Wing Division Affiliation Branch of Twenty Second Air Force while also serving as a C-141 aircraft commander.
Colonel Maturo graduated from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort McNair, Virginia in August 1973, then became the Operations Officer for the 776th Tactical Airlift Squadron at Ching Chuan Kang Air Base, Taiwan, a subordinate unit of the 374th Tactical Airlift Wing. In December of that year, the wing relocated to Clark Air Base in the Republic of the Philippines, and Colonel Maturo took command of the 776th Tactical Airlift Squadron there. He later moved up to serve as the wing’s assistant deputy commander for operations.
In December 1975, Colonel Maturo was reassigned to the Pentagon, where he served as the chief, Airlift and Tactical Forces Development Branch, Directorate of Plans Division. He later became assistant chief of the Airlift Forces Division. Colonel Maturo assumed command of the 374th Tactical Airlift Wing in August 1977 at Clark Air Base, which at that time was the largest airlift organization in the Pacific theater of operations.
In October 1978, Colonel Maturo was selected to command the newly reactivated 834th Airlift Division at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, which had been inactivated at the end of 1974. In that position, he assumed responsibility for managing all Military Airlift Command (MAC) resources in the Pacific area, acted as the single commander for MAC airlift units in the Pacific theater, and served the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) commander as the special assistant for airlift. The 834th commanded theater airlift forces for PACAF, performed airlift war planning and exercise planning, plus operated aerial ports for the air movement of personnel, cargo, equipment, patients, and mail throughout the theater.
Colonel Maturo retired from the United States Air Force in 1983 after serving his country for 27 years. His military decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal with nine Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, among many others.
After leaving the Air Force, Colonel Maturo was the Mid-Pacific Manager for Emery Worldwide Air Freight Company in Hawaii and later worked for American Airlines Government & Military Sales in Washington, DC.
Colonel Maturo continued to support the Airlift Association as a founding member, which became the Airlift/Tanker Association in 1992. During a special recognition ceremony held during the Awards Banquet at the 37th Annual Airlift/Tanker Association Convention & Symposium on October 30, 2005, Colonel Maturo received a plaque replicating a monument to the founding members of A/TA, which is now located on the Airlift/Tanker Walk of Fame at Scott AFB, Illinois
He is survived by his loving wife of 59 years, Greta Maturo, as well as numerous friends and family members. A memorial service will be held on June 7, 2016 at 2:00PM at Emerald Coast Funeral Home in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Colonel Maturo will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors at a later date.