LOS ANGELES - Family and friends of Lieutenant Mathew (Mat) Moneymaker kicked off a fundraising drive today to endow a memorial scholarship in his name for members of the swim team at the University of Southern California (USC).
Moneymaker, a Navy pilot stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS JOHN F. KENNEDY, died on Nov. 14, 1999 when his plane crashed into the north Arabian Sea moments after takeoff.
"Mat was the kind of person you wanted your own son to grow up to be," said Commander William H. Valentine, Moneymaker's Commanding Officer in Sea Control Squadron 32 (VS-32). "His enthusiasm to live each day to the fullest was contagious and he enriched our lives in ways that makes each of us a little better for having known him."
The Mathew Moneymaker Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to a Trojan male or female swimmer who best typifies the academic achievement, strong character and team-leading spirit Mat personified while a member of the USC Swim Team from 1988 to 1992. Endowed scholarships require $350,000 in capital to create the annuity that funds the scholarship in perpetuity. Currently there are no endowed scholarships for USC swimmers.
"Mat was a very special part of the swim team when he was here at USC," said Mark Schubert, head coach of the University of Southern California men's and women's swim teams and the 2000 U.S. men's Olympic swim team. "His leadership and enthusiasm influenced everyone around him. His family and friends hope to reward future swimmers who have a similar impact on their teammates through this scholarship drive."
The inaugural Mathew Moneymaker Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to a USC swimmer at the USC Athletic Awards Banquet (for the 2000-2001 academic year) on April 15, 2000. Family and friends of Mat also plan a recognition ceremony during a USC football home game during the 2000 season.
Born August 8,1970 in Meridian, Miss., Moneymaker was the son of a distinguished naval aviator, who in the course of his naval career was the Flight Leader of the world-famous Blue Angels.
As a young child and teenager Moneymaker faced the challenges of Navy life, including living five years in Japan. He met these, as he did all challenges, head-on. A 1988 graduate of Lemoore High School in California, he was an avid swimmer who broke numerous school records en route to USC, where he competed on the varsity for four years (1988-92). On one notable occasion during a dual meet, Moneymaker was scheduled to swim the mile freestyle and chose to swim the butterfly just for the challenge. He studied mechanical engineering at USC and planned to enter the U.S. Space Program for astronaut training later in his career. Moneymaker's interests leaned toward the outdoors, including rock-climbing, piloting seaplanes and gliders, and competing in numerous triathlons and marathons.
The lives of Moneymaker and Lieutenant Mike Meschke, his navigator, tragically were cut short when their S-3B Viking aircraft crashed moments after takeoff from the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY on November 14, 1999. The Kennedy Battle Group was steaming in the north Arabian Sea to enforce no-fly zone sanctions against Iraq at the time. Rescue helicopters recovered their bodies minutes after the crash. Moneymaker was laid to rest at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
He is survived by his parents, Patrick and Carol Moneymaker of Poway, CA, three sisters, Kimberly of Sacramento, Sara of San Diego and Rebecca, and one brother, Jonathan. Rebecca and Jonathan currently attend USC. Moneymaker's fianc