Yates-Matoy: A Hero in the THP and Army

Tom KingOur Town Heroes

His name is Frank William “Billy” Yates-Matoy. His job is public service. He wears two uniforms. For 11 years he’s been a decorated Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) trooper in East Tennessee. For 25 years he’s served in the Tennessee Army National Guard’s 278th Armored Cavalry, 4th Squadron, and today is a decorated command sergeant major.

In 2022 he was selected as the state’s DUI Trooper of the Year by the Governor’s Highway Safety Office. This 44-year-old father of three has been honored three times as DUI Trooper of the Year by Knoxville’s District 1 staff. MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) has honored him nine times for his effective focus on preventing deaths based on his large number of DUI and felony arrests.

Frank Yates-Matoy

His country has honored him with a pair of prestigious medals – a Bronze Star plus the Medal of Valor earned during deployments to Iraq (twice) where he helped lead more than 200 missions and to Ukraine just before Russia invaded the country.

And that leads to what THP Dist. 1 Commander Capt. Stacey Heatherly says about him: “Frank is a very passionate trooper with a true sense of policing with compassion. He’s fair, dedicated, as well as a true leader as a sergeant major in his military career. His dedication is truly commendable.”

And he’s not the only law enforcement officer who lives in their Madisonville home. His wife, Jill, is a technical security specialist for TVA’s police. They have three children – Kalli, 17; Phenix, 8; and Keegan, 5. In early July the family is headed to Italy for 10 days to watch Kalli play for USA Softball in five tournaments.

Here are a few other facts about this trooper:

  • His hyphenated name is special. He was adopted twice when young and the Yates-Matoy name honors the two families who adopted him.
  • He continues to study and is close to earning a degree in homeland security with a focus on antiterrorism from Purdue University.
  • Born in Maryville, he was reared in Sweetwater and graduated from Sweetwater High School in 1997. He was a 5-9, 292-pound linebacker his senior year. “A few scouts checked me out but when they saw I was only 5-9 they said goodbye,” he says. He did play one year at Tusculum College before dropping out.

The deaths of two cousins plus a lot of high school buddies who ended up in jail and prison and some who died of overdoses is what led to his THP career. “I am very passionate about this issue. I knew I could make an immediate impact and get a lot of them off the streets and change their lives,” Yates-Matoy says.

“I patrol all of Monroe County and help in Blount and Sevier counties,” he explains. “About 80% of the DUIs I write up are for drugs, not for alcohol. It’s rare to have an alcohol DUI here. And by far fentanyl is the drug we deal with the most. Meth is still around and I’m seeing these drugs being used by all ages of men and women. One thing making a difference now is being able to charge drug dealers and suppliers with second-degree murder who sell to someone who dies from an overdose.”

His effectiveness is enhanced by him being a drug recognition expert (DRE). Yates-Matoy is trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol. “We’re also trained to differentiate between drug influence and any medical and/or mental disorders of drivers.”

Away from the constant patrol work and arrests, he has three hobbies – hunting turkey and deer and watching those three Yates-Matoy kids play ball and compete.

Both of his uniforms are adorned with medals. So, the Army or THP? Pick one!!! “Well Sir, kinda hard to do. I enjoy them so much. I get a dosage of leadership from the Army and instant gratification with the THP in making a difference every day. There are a lot of similarities and the two go hand-in-hand. I consider myself pretty lucky all around.”

Tom King has been the editor of newspapers in Texas and California and also worked in Tennessee and Georgia. If you have someone you think we should consider featuring, please email him at the link with his name or text him at 865-659-3562.


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