Former NGAUS President Dead at 80

(May 6, 2013) It is with great sorrow that NGAUS announces the death of retired Maj. Gen. John L. Matthews, a former Utah adjutant general who served as the elected leader of this association from 1992 to 1994.

He died Tuesday morning from complications after a fall, according to the Utah National Guard.

The family plans a viewing from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today at the LDS Crescent Ridge Stake Center in Sandy, Utah. The funeral will be held today at 1 p.m. at the Stake Center, followed by burial at Provo City Cemetery. The Utah National Guard will provide full military honors during the service.

The general capped a 40-year military career by serving as the head of the Utah Guard from 1982 to 1994.

In an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune upon his retirement, he said his career high point was serving as NGAUS president, a position that has since become the chairman of the board.  

Matthews was commissioned a second lieutenant through the Brigham Young University Air Force ROTC program in 1954. After receiving his pilot’s wings, he was an instructor pilot in the active-component Air Force, later joining the Utah Air Guard as a fighter-interceptor pilot in 1959.

He was named air commander of the Utah Air Guard in 1979 after serving as commander of the 151st Air Refueling Group. His missions included airlifts in and out of Vietnam during the war.

He also served as President of the Adjutants General Association of the United States, Chairman of the Air Reserve Forces Policy Committee for the Secretary of the Air Force, and a member of the Reserve Forces Policy Board for the Secretary of Defense.

An educator in civilian life, he became a high school principal in Provo.

Maj. Gen. Jeff Burton, the Utah adjutant general, said many of the state's senior officers today consider Matthews their mentor.

“He led in a kind way. It was leadership by inspiration and not by fear,” Burton said. “He connected with all people at all levels. There are a lot of wet eyes today because of his loss.”

Onlines condolences can be made at

Donations in the general’s name can be made to the Utah Guard Charitable Trust. To make a donation, go to the website at Also, donations can be sent to Utah Guard Charitable Trust, Box C-2, Bldg. 6130, 17800 South Camp Williams Road, Bluffdale, UT 84065.