Soldier Honored: Matthew W. Bancroft
Hometown: Milwaukee, Oregon
Branch of Service: Army
Assigned to Marine Aerial Transport Refueling Squadron 352, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Bancroft was attached to Combined Task Force 58, “The Raiders” of VMGR-352, a KC-130R refueling aircraft. Born in Milwaukee, Oregon, Bancroft graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1994 with a degree in Economics, thus earning his commission. He received his coveted wings of gold after graduating Naval Flight Training at Corpus Christi in October of 1996. He served as adjutant, legal officer and flight duty officer with deployments to Jordan, Kenya, Egypt and Kuwait during his military career.
On January 9, 2002, Bancroft’s aircraft was attempting a night landing under difficult visibility when the KC-130R crashed into the side of a mountain near Shamshi, Pakistan. According to Department of Defense documents, even though weather conditions were satisfactory, lack of moonlight and absence of night-vision equipment left only runway lights to guide the plane’s descent. Seven Marines were killed in the crash. Investigators believe the crash could have been avoided with the correct night-flying gear and subsequently, all refueling craft from that point on have been outfitted with night vision goggles and updated navigational systems.
Bancroft’s wife and daughter are both Folds of Honor scholarship recipients.