SD Vietnam War Memorial Dedication Please Support the Memorial Soldiers, Heroes, and teachers information



In Memory of U.S Army Captain

Gilbert Louis Matthews, Jr.

Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Shannon County

June 3, 1941 -- June 24, 1971

Died Non-Battle in Vietnam

Gilbert Louis “Butch” Matthews, Jr. was born on June 3, 1941, in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, to Gilbert, Sr. and Evelyn (Ecoffey) Matthews. He had five siblings: Darlyne, Marirose, Robert, Daryl and Michelle. His grandmother, Rose Nelson-Ecoffey (also known as Princess Blue Waters), is in the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame. Butch attended kindergarten in Los Angeles because his father was stationed there while in the Navy. He then attended elementary school in Pine Ridge. He went to his freshmen year in high school at Chadron Preparatory, Nebraska, and tenth and eleventh grade he was at Reseda High School in Northridge, California. Butch came back to graduate from Holy Rosary Mission in 1959 in Pine Ridge. Butch enjoyed hunting and fishing, and in high school he was in track and basketball. Although Butch was awarded a full scholarship to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, financial constraints led him to the army instead. Butch got married November 3, 1964 at Munich, Germany to his wife, Ilona. They had three children: Robert, Richard and Darlean.

After Gilbert entered the service circa April 1, 1962, he entered Officer’s Training School as a mechanical engineer. On August 16, 1966, he was commissioned as a Captain in the United States Army at Fort Still, Okalahoma. Other training Captain Matthews had was non-judicial punishment training, military justice training and had further training in construction engineering. He then enlisted for active service at Fort Hamilton, New York. His first tour of duty in Vietnam was for a year between June of 1967 and 1968. His second tour commenced November 13, 1970; he was part of Advisory Team 70, Military Assistance Command. According to his sister, Darlyne, “He often thought of returning someday to the reservation and running for tribal president. He also told us that during his two tours of duty, the Vietnamese people he met reminded him of his own people and that he felt a great deal of compassion for them.”

Captain Gilbert Louis Matthews, Jr. died June 24, 1971. Shortly after his death, his body was returned to the United States and his funeral services were held at Holy Rosary Mission. Darlyne wrote, “During the funeral an eagle flew over Butch’s gravesite. In our way of life, the eagle is sacred. It is our belief that the eagle came to lead Butch home to his maker,” said his sister.

Among his current survivors are his widow, Ilona, and his three children: Richard and Robert, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Darlean, Little Rock, Arkansas; he is also survived by two grandchildren he never got to see.

Left: Butch’s gravesite on a hill overlooking Holy Rosary Mission, where he wished to be buried; Right: Robert Matthews holding a plaque made by Butch’s nephew, Bart Brewer, in honor of a ‘fallen Lakota warrior’ at the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, DC.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Kiefer Skroch, 8th grader, Spearfish Middle School, February 10, 2006. Prior information was included that was gathered by The information for this entry was provided by Darlyne Clements, sister of Gilbert, Pine Ridge, the Vietnam Veteran’s bonus application, and information gathered by Casey Derzab, 8th grade, Stanley County Middle School. Profile approval by Gilbert’s siblings via Darlyne Clements.


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