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Fernando Matthei

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Name  Fernando Matthei
Allegiance  Chile
Role  Air Force Officer

Years of service  1946 - 1991
Service/branch  Chilean Air Force
Rank  Air General
Relations  Evelyn Matthei
Fernando Matthei Matthei Aubel Fernando Jorge

Born  11 July 1925 (age 90) Osorno, Chile (1925-07-11)
Commands held  2nd Aviation Group(1963-67) First Air Brigade(1970-74) Combat Command of the Air Force(1974-78) Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force(1978-1991)
Children  Evelyn Matthei, Robert Matthei Fornet
Parents  Luisa Aubel Renz, Fernando Matthei Gunkel
Grandchildren  Antonia Desormeaux Matthei, Roberto Desormeaux Matthei, Jorge Desormeaux Matthei
Similar People  Evelyn Matthei, Alberto Bachelet, Gustavo Leigh, Rodolfo Stange, Cesar Mendoza

Birth name  Fernando Matthei Aubel

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With translated material from the Spanish Wikipedia article


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Fernando Matthei Aubel (b.Osorno July 11, 1925) is a retired Chilean Air Force General who was part of the military junta that ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990, replacing the dismissed Gustavo Leigh as Air Force Commander in Chief on July 24, 1978. He was part of the Junta from 1977 to 1990, retiring from the Air Force in July 1991.

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Military career

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The son of Fernando Matthei Aubel Gunkel and Luisa Gunkel Renz, Matthei entered the Aviation School in 1945 and the following year he was assigned to the Condors Air Base, where he obtained his appointment as a fighter pilot. In 1948, he was commissioned as a sublieutenant and was assigned to the No. 4 Bomber Group in Colina, serving concurrently as a flight instructor at the School of Aviation and Officers. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1951. That same year he married Elda Fornet, with whom he had five children: Fernando, Evelyn, Robert, Hedy Jaqueline and Victor Alejandro.

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In 1953 he traveled to the United States to study flight instruction at Craig Air Force Base in Alabama. He was promoted to flight captain in 1954, teaching classes in arms at the Aviation School. In 1957, he was assigned to Wing 1 in the Antofagasta Cerro Moreno Base.

Posted to Santiago in 1960, he was promoted to squadron commander and sent to the School of Aviation. He became the adjutant to the air force commander in chief, General Eduardo Iensen, the following year.

In 1966 he was promoted to group commander and served as commander of Aviation Group NÂș7 between 1968-1969, when he was sent to visit facilities of the Royal Air Force (RAF). On his return home, he was appointed professor at the Air War Academy. From October 1969 he was a professor of the Pilots Course for Tactical Hawker Hunter Aircraft in Aviation Group No. 7.

In November 1971, he served as air attache' in the Chilean embassies in Britain and Sweden, based in London. On 12 October 1973, he was appointed Chief of the Air Mission of Chile in London.

After the military coup in December 1973, he returned to Chile as director of the Air Force Academy. In January 1975, Matthei was promoted to air brigade general. On 19 March 1976 he was appointed Minister of Health.

The July 24, 1978, after the dismissal of General Gustavo Leigh and of most generals of the institution, Matthei was promoted to air general and appointed commander of the air force and a member of the military junta, occupying the Second Legislative Committee chair.

Political career

Before becoming a junta member, Matthei was Minister of Health of the military government.

In October 1988, Matthei was the first Junta member to publicly admit that the regime had lost the referendum to elect Pinochet for a new eight-year presidential term. Later the same day, the government stated that the referendum result would be respected and that the 1980 Constitution path to democracy would be strictly followed.

In 1990, with the return of democracy, Matthei ceased to be a member of the military junta, but retained his position as the commander in chief of the Air Force. He retired voluntarily on July 31, 1991 (although, as Pinochet, he could have continued to serve until 1998) and noted that with his retirement, the air force could fully adapt to democracy.

2003 saw the publishing of the book Matthei. Mi testimonio, written by Chilean historians Patricia Arancibia and Isabel de la Maza, in which Matthei recounts his public life.

In September, 2005, Matthei admitted in a television program that he "did everything possible so that Argentina would lose" the 1982 Falklands War with Britain. The extent of Chilean assistance to the UK is documented in a book, My Secret Falklands War, by retired RAF Wing Commander Sidney Edwards OBE, who was sent to Chile by the UK government to act as a liaison between the Chilean and UK governments during the conflict.

Matthei was born among a community of German Chileans in Southern Chile. Matthei is the father of Chilean senator and 2013 presidential candidate Evelyn Matthei.


Arancibia P. y de la Maza I. (2003) Matthei. Mi testimonio. La Tercera/Mondadori, Santiago.


Fernando Matthei Wikipedia