In Memory of
U.S. Army Corporal Woonsocket, South Dakota
Sanborn County

July 5, 1929 – October 14, 1952 (MIA)
                       March 11, 1954 (FOD)
Missing in Action, Presumed Dead in Korea

Robert Keith Mathis was born July 5, 1929, at Letcher, South Dakota, to Dewey Iowa and Alverta Elizabeth (Newton) Mathis. He was one of four sons. His oldest brother, Donald, died of spinal meningitis at the age of 12. Robert graduated from Letcher High School in 1948. Before he entered the service, Robert farmed with his father and his younger brother, Eldon. Robert was considerate and well-liked by many friends and relatives. His family remembers that he liked “to go to dances and parties and have a good time.”

Mathis was drafted and entered active service in the U.S. Army on September 20, 1951, at Sioux Falls. After his basic training, Corporal Mathis was home on leave for Christmas in December of 1951. He came home on leave a second time from February 6, to February 23, 1952. After returning to duty he was sent to Fort Lawton, Washington, and from there left for overseas duty on March 18, 1952, arriving in Korea in April. He was in Company C, 1st Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.

Corporal Robert Keith Mathis was declared missing in action in Korea on October 14, 1952. When nothing further was learned about the fate of Corporal Mathis, he was declared presumed dead in Korea on March 11, 1954. His body was not recovered, but he has a memorial stone in his honor at the Mitchell Cemetery and in the Woonsocket cemetery.

Corporal Mathis was awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean War Service Medal.

Robert’s youngest brother, Norval, also served in the Korean War and is still farming in the Woonsocket area.

This entry is respectfully submitted by Hillary Stevens, 8th Grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish South Dakota. Information for this entry was obtained from the SD National Guard Museum, the ABMC website, an application for a SD veteran’s bonus, and the Woonsocket newspaper, November 13, 1952, issue. Additional information and profile approval by Norval Mathis, brother.