Saturday, August 06, 2011

Navy Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Matthew D. Mason

Remember Our Heroes

Navy Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Matthew D. Mason, 37, of Kansas City, Mo.

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Matthew D. Mason was assigned to an East Coast-based SEAL team; died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter in which he was riding was shot down.

Mason was a member of the Navy's elite Seal Team Six. Mason was stationed in Virginia. He leaves behind a wife, two children and a third child on the way.

A severe arm injury during fighting in Fallujah in 2004 didn't keep Matthew Mason off the Iraq War battlefield. Nor did it dull the competitive fire of the avid runner and former high school athlete from outside Kansas City.

Within five months of losing part of his left arm, absorbing shrapnel and suffering a collapsed lung, Mason competed in a triathlon. He soon returned to his SEAL unit.
"He could have gotten out of combat," said family friend Elizabeth Frogge. "He just insisted on going back."

Mason, the father of two toddler sons, grew up in Holt, Mo., and played football and baseball at Kearney High School. He graduated from Northwest Missouri State University in 1998. His wife, who is expecting their third child — another boy — also attended Northwest Missouri.

Mason returned to Missouri in May to compete in a Kansas City triathlon, and took his family to Walt Disney World for the first time this summer, Frogge said.

"He loved doing what he did," she said. "He was the type of guy who thought he was invincible."

The Navy SEAL's former high school peer Eric Marshall, now the vice principal of their Kearny, Missouri, alma mater, said he remembers Mason as “a tough kid.”

“It didn't surprise anybody that he was able to have that type of success, and achieve Navy SEAL status," Marshall told CNN affiliate KSHB-TV.

John Ball, one of Mason’s former teachers and football coaches, told KSHB-TV that someone approached him asking if he remembered Mason, who graduated in 1992 before moving on to Northwest Missouri State University, where he played baseball. Ball said he immediately remembered his former student and his occupation. “I looked at him and said ‘Don’t tell me, don’t tell me, don’t tell me,’ ” Ball told KSHB-TV.

Mason lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with his two sons and his wife, who is expecting a third child in November, KSHB-TV reported.

He enlisted in the United States Navy in October, 1999. After graduating Recruit Training Command at Great Lakes, Illinois in June 2000, he reported to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training in Coronado, California. After graduating BUD/S in January 2001, he reported to Naval Special Warfare Advanced Training in Coronado, California and completed the training in June 2001. He then reported to a West Coast based SEAL Team in July 2001. In June 2006 he reported to his East Coast SEAL Team. His awards include: Bronze Star (2), Purple Heart, Joint Service Commendation Medal with "V" deviced for valor, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat "V" device for valor, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon (2), Presidential Unit Citation (2), Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Good Conduct Medal (3), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (6), Rifle Marksmanship Medal, and Pistol Marksmanship Medal.

He graduated from Kearney High School in 1992.

Friends say he leaves behind parents and a brother in Holt and Liberty.
His wife and two kids live in Virginia Beach, where she's expecting their third child.

Friends are remembering Matt's life with a great deal of respect for his service to our country.

When a neighbor came over to ask: "Do you remember Matt Mason?," his former teacher and coach feared the worst.

"I looked at him and I said, don't tell me, don't tell me, don't tell me," recalls John Ball.

Ball was a position coach when Mason played football.

Mason concentrated on football and baseball his senior year, but played several sports as he grew up.

Ball remembers him as aggressive and determined.

"He was very loyal. If he set his mind to doing something, he usually did get it done," said Ball.

It's been many years since Mason left the Kearney area to go off and serve in the military.

But people have been tracking him through those years.

They were very proud when he made the Seals. They were worried about him when he was injured in Iraq. And now, they're now remembering him and sharing stories about his life.

"He was a tough kid. He was a blue collar kid," recalls Eric Marshall.

Marshall is one year older than Matt and is now the vice-principal at Kearney High.
He remembers Mason's leadership potential and work ethic.

"It didn't surprise anybody that he was able to have that type of success, and achieve Navy Seal status," said Marshall.

The local newspaper reported details of his injuries when Matt was hurt during fighting in Iraq in 2004.

Friends say he worked his way back to war duty, rather than getting stuck with desk duty.

"He was serving our country; he was out living his life as he wanted to do it. And what more honorable way to do it than what he was doing. He lived life, and that was Matt. That was Matt," said Ball.

Mason's friends say they expect there will be some kind of community wide memorial service - but it's too early to say when.

Matt's parents may be out of town. A neighbor says he thinks they've already headed to Virginia Beach to be with Mason's wife.

Matt also played baseball while getting his college degree at Northwest Missouri State.

August 17, 2011
I remember so many fun times with Matt. It breaks my heart to hear about what happened. He accomplished so much in a life that was cut far too short. My memories of us practicing batting in his backyard, playing little league baseball, going through 2-a-day football practices, and just being classmates will stay with me forever. Matt was an incredible man, a great friend, and hero to our world. I miss you, Matt. ~ Brian James, Sunnyvale, California

August 16, 2011
I did not know Matthew but I work with his brother. I was deeply saddened to hear of your loss. My heart goes out to his wife and children. I pray God wraps his arms around you all and helps keep you strong. I'm sure you are all proud of him and pray his children grow up proud of him as well. It's an honor to know he was proud of his country and that because of his courage I have the freedom today. May God bless your entire family and know that he is with the angels now looking down on everyone he loved. I pray He brings you piece and comfort during this difficult time.~ Lori Johnson, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

August 16, 2011
I was honored and humbled to participate with the Patriot Guard in the escort of CPO Matthew Mason back home to Kearney yesterday. It was a very sad day as the angels in Heaven poured out their tears of rain while our tears flowed as well...One was inspired and thankful for the life that CPO Mason led and gave for each of us in the defense of freedom, God and country. With condolences I pray that the love of God and the peace and comfort that only He can bring be with his wife, children and family.~ Roy Stewart, Kansas City, Missouri

August 14, 2011
I had the immense privilege of getting to know Matt through my husband, who played college baseball with him. Matt was a truly inspirational person, with a very genuine heart and love for those he was around. Our hearts go out to Jessica and the boys, as well as Matt's parents. He will be forever loved and forever missed. ~ David & Angela Lakey, Kansas City, Missouri

August 13, 2011
Matthew was an exceptional young man and I am proud to be his cousin. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Jessica and the boys and my aunt and uncle David and Betty. I am so sorry for your loss and wish I could be there for you. Kim ~ Kim Underwood-Colwell (Mason), Portland, Oregon

Matthew is survived by his wife of seven years; his two sons and a child expected in the fall; his parents, his brother, his maternal grandparents and several aunts, uncles and cousins. He was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents.

Navy Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Matthew D. Mason was killed in action on 8/6/11.

No comments: