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Services set for Maj. Matthew M. Wiegand, 34, Marine pilot killed in helicopter crash

Major Matthew Wiegand graduated from Hatboro-Horsham High School in 2003. His passion for aviation was sparked by the annual air show at the Naval Air Station at Willow Grove, where his father was the commander.

Major Matthew M. Wiegand
Major Matthew M. WiegandRead moreCourtesy of the Wiegand Family (custom credit)

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, April 16, and Wednesday, April 17, for Maj. Matthew M. Wiegand, 34, of Horsham, a Marine pilot who died in a helicopter crash on March 30 near the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.

Maj. Wiegand and his copilot, Capt. Travis W. Brannon, 30, of Nashville, Tenn., were flying the AH-1Z Viper helicopter during a night training mission when the aircraft went down on training grounds in southwestern Arizona. Capt. Brannon also died. The cause is under investigation.

Maj. Wiegand was an instructor assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One in Yuma. The mission he and Capt. Brannon were flying was part of a seven-week weapons and tactical instructor course.

“Maj. Matthew M. Wiegand represented the best of America,” U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean (D., Pa.) said in a statement. “Let us resolve to live up to the remarkable standard he set.”

Maj. Wiegand joined the Marine Corps in 2008 after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy. He held the highest flight leadership and instructor qualifications in the AH-1W Super Cobra and the AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters with nearly 2,000 hours of flying time.

Marine officials said he was previously deployed to the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla., and the Marine Corps Base Camp in Pendleton, Calif., where he was assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadrons 367 and 469.

Maj. Wiegand previously deployed in support of the Unit Deployment Program in Okinawa, Japan. He also participated in exercises with foreign partners in the Philippines and South Korea.

He was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with gold star, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold star, Marine officials said.

Maj. Wiegand’s father is Navy Capt. Roy A. Wiegand, now retired, the former commanding officer of the Naval Air Station at Willow Grove. The base closed in September 2011.

As part of a military family, Maj. Wiegand moved as a youth to Miami, Annapolis, Norfolk, northern Virginia, Chicago, and Horsham. While his father was commander of the naval air station, Maj. Wiegand became enthralled by the annual airshows.

“They were a highlight for Matt and his buddies, and sparked an incredible passion for aviation,” his family said.

Later, as a Marine aviation instructor, Maj. Wiegand enjoyed working with many of his close friends. He filled the office with “his vibrant personality, pranks, and enough homemade food to feed the entire building,” his family said.

Born in Miami, Fla., he moved to the area and was a 2003 graduate of Hatboro-Horsham High School. He earned varsity letters in lacrosse, golf, and ice hockey.

Maj. Wiegand married Katrina Goncher in 2015. They enjoyed music, comedy, and classic cars.

When not flying, Maj. Wiegand liked golf, watching the Eagles and Flyers, playing the guitar, and cooking on the grill. He was a perennial learner and teacher. “He was often found soaking up new information and sharing it with anyone who would listen,” his family said.

In addition to his wife, Katrina, and father, Roy, he is survived by his mother, Margaret A. Wiegand.

A visitation from 10:30 a.m. to noon and from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, at the Ciavarelli Funeral Home, 951 E. Butler Pike, Ambler, will be followed by an 11 a.m. funeral service Wednesday, April 17, at Abington Presbyterian Church, 1082 Old York Rd.

Burial with full military honors will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, at Arlington National Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Wingman Foundation, 10915 Via Brescia, Unit 909, San Diego, Calif. 92129.