Saturday, July 13, 2024

Avenue of Heroes: Jim “Guido” DiMatteo

Prepared by: Kathy DiMatteo (wife)

Jim DiMatteo, a distinguished Naval Aviator and leader, boasts a celebrated career spanning over 25 years in the U.S. Navy. Graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, he followed in the footsteps of his father and brother by flying for the Navy, accumulating more than 6,500 flight hours across five different fighter aircraft (F/A-18/F-16/F-14/F-5/A-4), including combat missions during Desert Storm. His exemplary service led to commanding officer roles in the prestigious TOPGUN Adversary squadrons, where he achieved unprecedented success, including the Triple Crown of Naval Aviation awards for Operations, Safety, and Maintenance.

Transitioning to civilian leadership, Jim served as Race Director for the International Red Bull Air Races for 14 years, orchestrating over 90 races worldwide, captivating over 80 million fans annually across 180 countries. At AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, he revolutionized Flight Operations, Features, and Attractions, leaving an indelible mark on one of the world’s largest aviation events. Additionally, he directed and flew with the Breitling Jet Team for their two-year American Tour, captivating over 50 million spectators. In 2019, the United Kingdom appointed him U.S. Liaison to the Royal Air Force Red Arrows’ U.S. Tour. Today, Jim continues to fly the F-5 Advanced Tiger in Red-Air Adversary missions
against U.S. Navy F/A-18s and F-35s, accumulating more Adversary flight time than anyone in history.

Beyond his military and aviation endeavors, Jim’s entrepreneurial spirit thrived, owning numerous successful ventures in the hospitality industry. He has received esteemed recognitions including San Diego’s Restaurateur-of-the-Year, San Diego’s Best New Restaurant Award, the Trailblazer-of-the-Year Award, the Sports’ Council Chairman’s Award,
and the Spirit of Life Award from the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center. In recognition of his aviation, military, and business achievements, San Diego’s Mayor officially proclaimed March 16th Jim DiMatteo Day.

In aviation, Jim received numerous awards, including F-14 Pilot-of-the- Year, Adversary Pilot-of-the-Year, United Kingdom’s Britannia Award as the TOP Strike Jet Pilot, and his highest honor yet, induction into the Aviation Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievements in Aviation, alongside his father, making them the only father/son duo to receive this honor.
Additionally, he won three National Collegiate Rugby Championships and represented the country on All-Navy/All-Military National Teams.

Still active in the community, Jim and his wife Kathy reside in Coronado and have two children.

The Avenue of Heroes military service recognition program is sponsored by the City of Coronado. Introduced in 2014, the program has honored 261 hometown heroes to date. On May 18, 2024, another 16 were honored. City staff and volunteers from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2422, the Coronado Historical Association and Third and Fourth Streets Neighborhood Association oversee its operation.
In 2011, the program was inspired spontaneously with the movement of two Navy SEALs to their final resting place. News spread quickly and the local Rotary Club passed out American flags. People lined Fourth Street to honor the fallen service members. As the procession approached the Coronado Bridge, a lone Navy SEAL stood at attention, saluting as he waited for the passage of his comrades. That moment made clear that Third and Fourth streets were already an Avenue of Heroes.
That spontaneous beginning launched the program in May 2015 with 18 banners. The Avenue of Heroes is a reminder that Coronado has a rich history and legacy of service to the country.

Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

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