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.
Herbert Joseph Thomas, Jr. was born in Columbus, Ohio on February 8, 1918. He moved at age seven with his family to South Charleston, West Virginia, where he spent the rest of his childhood and adolescence. After graduating from high school, Thomas attended the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) on a football scholarship. In 1940, he led the “Hokies” in both pass receptions and scoring.
In July 1941, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps, but soon requested and received a transfer to the United States Marine Corps in which many of his friends had volunteered. His enlistment was placed with the Marine Forces Reserve and he began on active service with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment which was part of the newly-formed 3rd Marine Division.
On November 1, 1943, 1/3 Marines and the 3rd Marine Division stormed ashore on Bougainville for their first combat action of the war. Six days later, the Japanese began an ultimately unsuccessful counter-attack that is known today as the Battle of Koromokina Lagoon. Continue reading TFH 11/7: Sergeant Herbert J. Thomas, Jr., USMCR