Robert C. Mason, Sgt. Major, USMC (Ret.) [August 11, 2009], was known as a Marine’s Marine. The Corps creed, “Semper Fidelis” – always faithful – was the hallmark of his professional and personal life. His courage, conduct and devotion to duty and family reflected the most valued traditions of the Corps and our nation. He rose to the top echelons of the United States Marine Corps, cited on numerous occasions for his extraordinary leadership.
In 1941, while at Parris Island, S.C. he graduated at the top of his class in all areas of training and there became an expert in light weapons ordnance. In the Pacific Theater in WW II, he was part of the legendary combat unit “Carlson’s Raiders.” He served in Bougainville, Guam, the Marianas, Okinawa and other areas of the Pacific Theater where he was wounded several times and received the Bronze Star for bravery.
After the war, he was assigned to duty in China in 1946. There he served as one of the watchdogs over the Chinese Communists until he became the non-commissioned officer in charge of the embassy guard at Nanking. In that position, he was cited on numerous occasions by the USMC for extraordinary leadership.
In Korea, he took part in the Inchon landing, the recapture of Seoul and the winter campaigns against the Chinese Communist army near the Manchurian border. After his exemplary service in Korea, he was assigned to the Kaneohe Air Station in Honolulu, Hawaii where he was in placed in charge of light weapons training for all air station personnel. He used to say that in the Corps, every Marine is first and foremost a rifleman.
Later in his career, duty stations included Camp Lejeune, NC; Danang, Vietnam; USS Taconic, Pakistan; the Brooklyn Navy Yard; Parris Island and finally Glenview Naval Station in Illinois.
Robert Mason was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and grew up during the Depression in Scarboro, a West Virginian coal mining town. At 16, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), started under the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Robert said that decision changed his life. It provided substance, discipline, and a deep sense of pride in both personal and national accomplishments. In later years, one of his greatest satisfactions was to visit our U.S. National Parks where, in many, the work of the CCC “boys” still stands for generations to enjoy.
His beloved wife, Evelyn Hatfield Mason from Racine, West Virginia, died in 2006. He is survived by his two daughters, Margaret and Patricia, and son-in-laws, John and Ted. We treasure his memory and honor the values he lived. “Semper Fidelis and Keep Attacking.”