Menifee rancher, veteran Lynn Mattocks continues to ride tall in the saddle

As a boy growing up in the Flint Hills of Kansas, Lynn Mattocks knew only one thing. "It was a...

lynn mattoxAs a boy growing up in the Flint Hills of Kansas, Lynn Mattocks knew only one thing.

"It was all cattle ranches and cowboys," recalled Mattocks, relaxing in the den of his ranch house in Menifee. "I was always around the cowboys. I decided that's what I wanted to be; those are your heroes."

It didn't take him long to recognize the bond shared by cowboys and members of the military, however. That became evident when the U.S. entered World War II.

"When that happened, all the cowboys hung up their saddles and went off to war," said Mattocks. "They still had rodeos in the area, but they were used as fund-raisers for the war effort.

"Then I went to the theater and saw a newsreel where the Marines raised the flag at Iwo Jima. I said, 'I've got to be one of those.' "

If anyone truly exemplifies both the spirit of the American cowboy and the war hero, it's Lynn Mattocks.

Mattocks, 76, has devoted his life to both professions. A 30-year veteran of the U.S. Marines who served three tours in Vietnam, the Menifee rancher also was a champion rodeo cowboy in both the military and professional circuits.

lynn mattoxToday, Mattocks continues his efforts both to preserve the legacy of the American cowboy and to pay tribute to military veterans. He enjoys speaking to students about the history of the Menifee Valley, serves on the Riverside County Trails Committee, and participates in many military memorial celebrations.

On Nov. 11, Mattocks rode with the color guard of the Marine Corps League in the Murrieta Veterans Day parade. Residents and visitors of all ages, from veterans to small children, cheered as military personnel -- both retired and active -- traveled down Washington Street in the historic downtown section of Murrieta.

Whether he's giving horseback riding lessons on his ranch off Menifee Road or working to gain recognition for U.S. veterans, Mattocks stands much larger than his 5-foot-4 frame in the community. He truly cares about his country and his community, and he lets people know it.

"I like to participate in the parades," said Mattocks, who rides in the Murrieta Veterans Day Parade every year and was once its grand marshall. "It's an educational experience for the people. I also like to go to the schools and let the kids know about the history. It's not