Mark Matthews (August 7, 1894 – September 6, 2005) was an American veteran of the Second World War and a Buffalo Soldier. Born in Alabama and growing up in Ohio, Matthews joined the 10th Cavalry Regiment when he was only 15 years old, after having been recruited at a Lexington, Kentucky racetrack and having documents forged so that he appeared to meet the minimum age of 17. While stationed in Arizona, he joined General John J. Pershing’s Mexico expedition to hunt down Mexican bandit Pancho Villa. He was later transferred to Virginia, where he took care of President Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor’s horses and was a member of the Buffalo Soldiers’ drum and bugle corps. In his late 40s, he served in combat operations in the South Pacific during World War II and achieved the rank of First Sergeant. He was noted as an excellent marksman and horse showman.
Leaving the United States Army a few years before it was integrated, Matthews then took a job as a security guard in Maryland, rising to the rank of chief of the guards and then retiring in 1970. After the war, he told stories of military experiences and grew to represent a symbol of the Buffalo Soldiers. He met with Bill Clinton and Colin Powell in his later years, and dedicated a barracks in Virginia in honor of the Buffalo Soldiers. Having experienced excellent health for most of his life, Matthews died of pneumonia at the age of 111 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. At the time of his death, he was recognized as the oldest living Buffalo Soldier as well as the oldest man, and the second-oldest person, in the District of Columbia.
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