Matthew John Wagner, 84, foreman in water bureau

May 14, 2004

Matthew John Wagner, a retired foreman with the city Public Works Department's Bureau of Water and Wastewater and a World War II naval veteran, died of heart failure Sunday at his home in Mesa, Ariz. The former Chase resident was 84.

Mr. Wagner was born in Baltimore and raised on Port Street. He was a graduate of what was then Patterson Park High School and entered the Navy in 1942.

He served for three years as a gunner's mate aboard the battleship USS New Mexico, steaming more than 180,000 nautical miles and participating in every major naval engagement from Guadalcanal to Okinawa. He was also credited with destroying several Japanese planes on suicide runs at the ship.

Mr. Wagner was aboard when the New Mexico entered Sagami Bay in 1945, as part of the first U.S. fleet to enter a Japanese port since Commodore Matthew C. Perry sailed into Yedo Bay in 1854, and when it was anchored in Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender.

He returned to Baltimore in 1946 and went to work for the water department in heavy equipment repairs. He retired as shop foreman in 1984.

Mr. Wagner had lived in Mesa since 2002, when his wife of 50 years, the former Anna May Norton, had died.

He was a member of Gunpowder Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and enjoyed fishing and crabbing.

Graveside services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at Oak Lawn Cemetery, 7225 Eastern Ave.

Mr. Wagner is survived by seven cousins, Arthur Morrison and John Morrison, both of Baltimore, Mark S. Brown, Robert Brown IV, Kayla Brown and Mariah Brown, all of Apache Junction, Ariz., and Iris A. Brown of Mesa.

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