Phoenix – On November 8th, 2020, James Waldo Matchette, DVM, Col (USAF Reserves), made his Final Flight and flew west (with his Vet bag) to touch the hand of God.
Jim was born Jan 10, 1936, outside Swayzee, IN, to Ada Rachel Baker Matchette and Henry Waldo Matchette. He grew up in the Swayzee area and graduated from Swayzee High School. After high school, Doc went to Purdue University, graduating with Honors as a Distinguished Graduate, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the US Air Force. November 1957, the Colonel began his 31-year Air Force career as a Fighter Pilot, Amphibious Pilot, and a Helicopter Pilot.
After nearly six years flying the F-100 Nuclear-Capable Fighter Jet, he transitioned to the Indiana Air National Guard in Terre Haute, IN where he flew the F-84. Jim entered Purdue University, School of Veterinary Medicine receiving his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine as the top clinician and Distinguished Graduate. He married Diane (Dee) Malstrom in 1964 and welcomed Joseph Scott, Peter William, and Rebecca Lynn.
After Vet School, Jim moved to Arizona to start practicing veterinary medicine. Upon arriving in Phoenix, he joined Air Force Reserves as a member of the 302d Air Rescue Squadron. He initially flew the amphibious HU-16 aircraft before the unit transitioned to helicopters in 1971.
Jim assumed command of the 302d Special Operations Squadron at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The “Old Man” commanded until Jan 1984; at which time he was promoted to Colonel in the Air Force Reserves. That ended his love affair with the Jolly Green Giant H-3 helicopter. Doc served as the Air Force State Preparedness Liaison Officer at the Arizona State National Guard Headquarters. He retired on April 1, 1988, where he received the Legion of Merit, Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal.
Jim’s wife Dee passed and he married Sandy in 1991 until she held his hand while he took his last breath.
Jim retired from Veterinary practice in 2002, ending a long and successful run with his partner Bill Welty. He and Sandy spent their time with family and friends at their cabin in Munds Park, AZ enjoying hunting, fishing, skiing, and traveling.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, his first wife Diane, and his son Peter. He is survived by his wife Sandra Matchette, son Joseph, daughter Rebecca, step-daughters Jennifer and Julie; grandchildren Anthony, Brittany, Nathan, Brittany, Michelle, James, Josephine, Kylie, and Will; great-grandchildren Landon, Jesse, and Graelynn; siblings Jane, Susan and John.
Jim requested NO FLOWERS and preferred donations for the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, Waterhole Projects, PO Box 21705, Mesa, AZ 85277 (or online at https://adbss.org/ In Memory of Jim Matchette), the Deer Valley Lions Club, Attn: Darrell Sawyer, 5801 N 38th Place, Paradise Valley, AZ 85283, or Salvation Army Citadel Corps, 628 N 3rd Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85003. Services are currently pending, please refer to www.heritagefuneralchapels.com for further information.
Information was sent by his son Joe, an F-16 pilot.