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Capt. Reino Mattila

Published on December 1, 2011 12:01AM


Capt. Reino Mattila, 89, of Astoria, died on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011. He was born Feb. 18, 1922 in Tieton, Washington to Finnish immigrants, Alex and Hanna Mattila.

Capt. Mattila had a long and storied career as the Skipper of the ?M/V Salvage Chief. 

In his early years, Reino spent time as a commercial fisherman with his father prior to answering the call to service during World War II. Initially serving in the US Coast Guard from 1942 to 1943, he then transferred to serve in the US Army Transportation Corps – Water Division, serving aboard US Army MIKI Tugs. After a trip to the Aleutians, he was sent from Seattle, WA as 2nd Mate of LT 214 to Charleston, S.C. and then on to New York as 1st Mate where his tug joined a large convoy bound for Europe. Even though the convoy was disrupted by German U-Boat attack, the LT 214 arrived safely in Liverpool, England and Reino was soon promoted to Captain of the LT 214. During the June 6th, 1944 D-Day invasion, Reino and the LT 214 served off the coast of Normandy, France leightering troops from large transport ships to smaller awaiting landing craft prior to the final beach assault. At this time the LT 214 was also instrumental in towing ships damaged by German mines back to England and then towing Mullbery (artificial) harbors into place back in Normandy.

After the war, he remained in Europe making many trips towing in much needed supplies and towing out barges full of German munitions for scuttling in the North Sea. During this time, he met his wife, Hedy Wessels, who was working in the Harbor Master's office in Bremerhaven, Germany. 

They quickly fell in love and soon after the birth of their daughter Shirley in 1948 in Bremerhaven, he returned with wife and child to Astoria. In 1950 his son, Reino was born. In 1952, after investigating an odd looking ship tied up at the port, he signed on as First Mate of the M/V Salvage Chief - a new type of marine salvage vessel that was specially designed by Fred Devine of Fred Devine Diving and Salvage Inc. After his first salvage mission to rescue the beached 441 foot - 10,000 ton Liberty ship Yorkmar off a beach in Grays Harbor, Washington, Reino signed on as Captain. He remained in this position throughout his entire 50 year career with Salvage Chief until his retirement in 2002 at the impressive age of 80. Among the many milestones of his career including well over 200 successful marine salvage operations versus 3 losses, his crowning achievement was the successful removal of the oil tanker M/V Exxon Valdez from the Bligh Reef in Valdez, Alaska. His last salvage job on the Salvage Chief was in 1999 when he and his crew pulled the wood chip barge MR CHIPS off the beach which, fittingly, had landed on the same beach where he began his amazing career in 1952 when rescuing the Yorkmar.

When not at sea, he enjoyed spending time with his family, traveling, fishing, visiting with friends and relaxing at home while analyzing his Keno and Lottery numbers.

He died peacefully, surrounded by his family on Sunday, November 27th, 2011. 

He was preceded in death by his wife, Hedy Mattila.

He is survived by:

Larry & Shirley Martin Daughter/son-in-law Astoria, OR?Reino & Jacquee Mattila Son/daughter-in-law Astoria, OR?Larry Jr. & Shani Martin, Grandson/Granddaughter-in-law Beaverton, OR?Erik & Carrie Martin, Grandson/Granddaughter-in-law, Portland, OR?Kirk & Laurie Mattila, Grandson/Daughter-in-law, Sand Point, ID?Maureen & Kyle Murphy,Granddaughter/Grandson-in-law, Olympia, WA?Reino & Brock Mattila, Grandson/Daughter-in-law, Tualitin, OR

Eli & Lindsay Anderson, Step Grandson/daughter-in-law, Sacremento, CA?and 6 Great Grandchildren

He was a lifetime member in good standing of the American Legion,  the Finnish Brotherhood, the Astoria Elks, the Masonic Lodge and the Shriner's.

There will be a visitation at Hughes Ransom, Sunday, December 4th, from 12:00 to 5:00 PM

A grave side service will be conducted at Ocean View Cemetery on Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 at 1:00 PM followed by a celebration of life at Soumi Hall at 2:30 pm.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Shriner's Children's Hospital, the Wounded Warriors Project, or the Clatsop County Animal Shelter.




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