SUMMERVILLE -- Retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Don Matyszyk was looking forward to August when his son was going to return home from Germany.
Instead, Matyszyk is on his way to Ramstein Air Base this week for the court martial of the man authorities say is responsible for his son's death.
Chris Matyszyk, 36, died Jan. 12, nearly two weeks after suffering a fatal punch to the face outside a pub in the German town of Landstuhl, near Ramstein. He never awoke from a medically induced coma that was supposed to control the swelling around his brain.
Beginning Tuesday, Airman 1st Class Franklin Lucas -- the man identified as throwing the punch -- faces a general court-martial on a charge of involuntary manslaughter. Nothing will stop Matyszyk from being there. "I'm not going to dishonor my son's memory by letting him be forgotten," he said.
At the time of his death, the younger Matyszyk was a civilian living in Germany. He ran a popular Irish pub -- the Blarney Stone -- with his Irish-born girlfriend. On the morning of Jan. 1, he was dumping the bar's New Year's Eve recyclables when the attack occurred.
The reasons behind the punch have yet to be disclosed, but the elder Matyszyk thinks it can be pegged to the fact that Lucas had been banned from the bar because of his previous drinking conduct. "For the first time in my life, I cried uncontrollably," Matyszyk said of his son's death.
In Germany, the younger Matyszyk, (pronounced Mah-ty-zik) seemed to have turned his life around. He'd served in the Air Force as well, but his 13-year career came to an end after he was convicted on a drug charge. He was court-martialed and received a bad-conduct discharge. But he and his girlfriend, Carmel Coll, had thrived in running the Blarney Stone. This summer they had plans to relocate back to Summerville to start a new business in the United States.
The elder Matyszyk is a 30-year military veteran. He joined the Air Force in 1967 and served at bases all over the world, eventually retiring in Summerville in the late 1990s. He remembers his son in a lot of different ways. "Star Wars, G.I. Joes," he said, adding "baseball and soccer, especially soccer."
After his death, Matyszyk's mother, Karen, flew to Germany to retrieve his ashes. They will be spread at Myrtle Beach this summer.
Matyszyk was invited by the Air Force to attend the trial and serve as a sentencing witness if Lucas is found guilty. Kilian Bluemlein, an Air Force spokesman, said the charges against Lucas include involuntary manslaughter in Matyszyk's death, and also a separate charge of assault consummated by a battery for an alleged attack against another individual from last fall.
Lucas faces a maximum punishment of a dishonorable discharge; total forfeiture of all pay and allowances; reduction to the grade of E-1; and 10 years, 6 months of confinement, the Air Force said.
Matyszyk will be allowed to sit in the courtroom during the trial, which is expected to last several days. He won't be called to the witness stand until it is time to testify about what the loss of his son has meant to their family.
In the meantime, Matyszyk said he has full faith in military justice. "I believe in the system and I trust in the system."
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551, or email@example.com.