Leonard Foster Mason was born on February 22, 1920 in Middlesboro, Kentucky. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in April of 1943, and became a rifleman with the 3rd Marine Division‘s 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. Mason landed with 2/3 Marines on Guam, July 21, 1944.
On the second day of the battle, Mason’s platoon came under fire from two enemy machine guns which he attacked single-handedly under his own initiative.
*MASON, LEONARD FOSTER
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as an automatic rifleman serving with the 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, 3d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on the Asan-Adelup Beachhead, Guam, Marianas Islands on 22 July 1944. Suddenly taken under fire by 2 enemy machineguns not more than 15 yards away while clearing out hostile positions holding up the advance of his platoon through a narrow gully, Pfc. Mason, alone and entirely on his own initiative, climbed out of the gully and moved parallel to it toward the rear of the enemy position. Although fired upon immediately by hostile riflemen from a higher position and wounded repeatedly in the arm and shoulder, Pfc. Mason grimly pressed forward and had just reached his objective when hit again by a burst of enemy machinegun fire, causing a critical wound to which he later succumbed. With valiant disregard for his own peril, he persevered, clearing out the hostile position, killing 5 Japanese, wounding another and then rejoining his platoon to report the results of his action before consenting to be evacuated. His exceptionally heroic act in the face of almost certain death enabled his platoon to accomplish its mission and reflects the highest credit upon Pfc. Mason and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Mason’s wounds proved beyond the ability of a field hospital or hospital ship to repair. He was buried at sea off Guam. In addition to the posthumous award of the Medal of Honor, the United States Navy honored this fallen Marine by naming the Gearing-class destroyer USS Leonard F. Mason (DD-852) for him. The Mason served in America’s navy for 30 years from June 1946 to November 1976.
Leonard F. Mason is remembered in the stone of the Honolulu Memorial amidst the names of 18,095 World War II comrades who like him were buried at sea or whose remains were never recovered. The memorial is located at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and also remembers the names of the unrecovered from the Korean (8,195) and Vietnam (2,504) wars.