ODESSA, TX (KWES) - The Commemorative Air Force Desert Squadron is coming up on their Shops and Props event where families get to shop and view World War II planes.
The Desert Squadron is a building that holds a ton of history. It was formed in 1978. If you walk inside, you'll find a wall of honored veterans to your left, many of which were CAF members.
"Some of our members that have passed on that were WWII members that we revisited with, it's important that we remember them," said Col. Joe Acuff, Desert Squadron Chaplain. "These people are heroes, whether they received a medal or not."
You'll find one of them, a longtime CAF member and World War II veteran, Colonel Forest H. Mathews.
"I'm the last Mohican so to speak," said Mathews. "I was in the South Pacific. I fought in the southern war and the northern war."
Mathews was a former flight officer in the Air Force and today, he's still a man of many words.
"I have a pretty good record in flying," he said. "I was a pretty good pilot, if I do say so myself."
On the same wall, his picture hangs alongside his brother, William Calvin Mathews. William was in the Navy in a bombardment patrol bomber group and flew a B-24. The only thing is he's not here with Forest today.
"He was three years older than I, very intelligent," said Mathews.
Forest was stationed on the same island his brother was, but somehow, he disappeared during the war.
"My brother radioed in the Philippines, and said, 'We're going to make a pass over a ship and we're going to bomb it. He made a first pass and it missed, so he made a circle, came back and said, 'We're going to make a second pass over this ship.' On the second pass, we never heard from him again. The airplane literally disappeared. No debris on the water, no oil slick, no gasoline, no bodies, no life preservers. No nothing. It just disappeared. I saw these tailed airplanes with tall tails on them, I went over there and started looking for him. I didn't find him."
The area where his brother vanished, also known as Devil's Triangle, is located south of Japan. Mathews said over 700 ships and planes have vanished. With no trace, that was the last he saw of his brother.
But even through loss, he stands at the CAF hangar with a smile. At 93-years-old, he's still up and about, recounting the history he once lived.
"I have a lot of memories from them and everything," said Mathews. "Every now and then, we get to fly but I go as a passenger. It's fun to be free from the Earth."
With more upcoming events, you can catch Forest at the CAF Desert Squadron, teaching others about aircraft and if you stop by, make sure you say hi.
"They say, 'Thank you sir for your service,' I say, 'God bless you, I enjoyed every bit of it and I felt like I did some good,'" said Mathews.
The CAF's Shops and Props event will be held on Saturday, May 13 at 11 a.m. at 411 E Yukon Rd.