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Tue, 08.07.1894

An original Buffalo Soldier, Mark Mathews

Sgt. Mark Mathews

*Mark Matthews was born this date in 1894. He was a Black Buffalo Soldier.

From in Greenville, Ala., Mathews grew up in Mansfield, Ohio. He rode horses when he was a child and delivered newspapers on his pony. According to Matthews’ accounts told friends, family members and at least one military historian, he was 15 when he met members of the Buffalo Soldiers' 10th Cavalry.  They were visiting a Lexington, Ky., racetrack where he worked exercising the horses.  Although you had to be 17 to enlist, his boss concocted documents that persuaded a Columbus, Ohio, recruiter that he was of age.

Mathews served along the U. S.-Mexican border as part of Gen. John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing's 1916 expedition into Mexico, on the trail of Mexican bandit and revolutionary Poncho Villa. In 1931, he was assigned to Ft. Myers, Va., where he trained recruits in horsemanship, helped tend the presidential stable for Franklin D. Roosevelt and played on the polo team. Ten years later, although in his late 40s when the United States entered World War II, he saw action on Saipan.  He retired from the Army in 1949 and became a security guard at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.  He retired a second time, as chief of guards, in 1970.

Matthews' wife of 57 years, Genevieve Hill Matthews, died in 1986. Survivors include three daughters, a son, nine grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. He met with President Clinton at the White House, and in 2002 and marked his 108th birthday by meeting with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. Retired 1st Sgt. Mark Matthews, one of the last of the nation's Buffalo Soldiers and said to be the oldest, died of pneumonia Sept. 6 2005 at Fox Chase Nursing Home in D.C. He was reported to be 111.

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