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Mason II (DE-529)

(DE‑529: displacement 1,140; length 289'5"; beam 35'1"; draft 8'3"; speed 21 knots; complement 156; armament 3 3-inch, 4 1.1-inch, 9 20 millimeter, 2 depth charge tracks, 8 depth charge projectors, 1 depth charge (hedgehog-type); class Evarts)

The first Mason (DD‑191) was named for John Young Mason, born on 18 April 1799, in Greene County, Va. Both a political leader and a diplomat, he served as Secretary of the Navy, first for President John Tyler from 1844 to 1845, and then for President James K. Polk, from 1846 to 1849. As minister to France from 1853, he joined James Buchanan and Pierre Soul, ministers to Great Britain and Spain, respectively, in issuing on 18 October 1854 the Ostend Manifesto, justifying the seizure of Cuba if the Spaniards refused to sell the colony to the United States. Mason died in Paris, France, on 3 October 1859.

The second Mason (DE‑529) was named for Newton Henry Mason, born on 24 December 1918, at New York City. He enlisted as a seaman in the Naval Reserve on 7 November 1940, and on 10 February 1941 was appointed an aviation cadet. Mason reported to Fighting Squadron 3 in September, serving with that squadron initially at Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, Territory of Hawaii (T.H.), and then on board aircraft carrier Saratoga (CV-3). Japanese submarine I-6 fired a deep-running torpedo into the port side amidships of Saratoga about 500 miles southwest of Oahu, T.H., on 11 January 1942. Six men died, water poured into three firerooms, and the ship listed to port. Saratoga made for Oahu, where her 8-inch guns were removed, and then for repairs and modernization that included improved watertight integrity and antiaircraft armament at Puget Sound Navy Yard at Bremerton, Wash. The departure of Saratoga temporarily reduced U.S. fleet carrier strength in the Pacific to three ships, and led to the distribution of her air group among the other carriers.

The young pilot subsequently transferred to Fighting Squadron 3, serving with that squadron while embarked on board Lexington (CV-2) during the Battle of the Coral Sea. Mason disappeared while flying a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat against the Japanese on 8 May 1942, most likely shot down by Mitsubishi A6M-0 Reisen fighters flying from aircraft carrier Shōkaku. Ensign Mason was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his skill and courage in the battle.

The second U.S. Navy ship named Mason. The third Mason, a guided missile destroyer (DDG-87), was named in honor of the predominantly African American crewmen of the second Mason (DE-529). 

 

II

 

The second Mason (DE‑529) was laid down by Boston Navy Yard, Boston, Mass., on 14 October 1943; launched on 17 November 1943; sponsored by Mrs. David Mason, mother of the late Ensign Mason; and commissioned on 20 March 1944, Lt. Comdr. William M. Blackford, USNR, in command.

Following her shakedown off Bermuda, Mason, manned by a predominantly African American crew, sailed from Charleston, S.C., on 14 June 1944, escorting a convoy bound for Europe, arriving at Horta Harbor, Azores, on 6 July. She steamed from Belfast, Northern Ireland, for the east coast on 26 July, reaching Boston on 2 August, and escorting coastal convoys off the harbor through August.

On 2 September, she arrived at New York, sailing on 19 September in the screen for convoy NY‑119. The escort ship reached Falmouth, England, with part of the convoy on 18 October, returning to New York from Plymouth, England, and the Azores on 22 November. Mason joined Task Force (TF) 64 at Norfolk, Va., on 17 December. Two days later she sailed in convoy for European waters, passing by Gibraltar on 4 January 1945 to be relieved of her escort duties. Continuing to Algeria, she entered Oran on 5 January for the formation of Task Group (TG) 60.11.

The escort ship cleared Oran on 7 January 1945. Four days later Mason made radar contact with a surface target. She rang up full speed with all battle stations manned to attack the presumptive submarine, rammed, and dropped depth charges. Unable to regain contact, the ship returned to the contact point, where searchlight revealed the target, a wooden derelict about 100 by 50 feet. Mason then steamed to Bermuda for repairs, entering St. George's Harbor on 19 January. Five days later she reached New York Navy Yard for additional repairs and maintenance.

On 12 February, Mason departed Norfolk in convoy for the Mediterranean, arriving off Gibraltar on 28 February. She cleared Oran on 8 March, guarding a convoy to Bermuda and Chesapeake Bay, before returning to New York on 24 March. She carried out sonar exercises off New London, Conn., and fighter-director training with naval planes flying from Naval Air Station Quonset Point, R.I., she steamed from Norfolk on 10 April with another convoy to Europe, leaving the convoy at Gibraltar on 28 April. Mason sailed en route to the east coast and two days out of Oran when she overheard the German surrender announced on 9 May 1945.

Mason arrived at New York on 23 May for operations along the east coast into July. From 28 July to 18 August, she served as a schoolship for the Naval Training Center, Miami, Fla. On 20 August she arrived at New London to be outfitted for long‑range underwater signal testing in the Bermuda area into September. Mason departed Bermuda on 8 September for Charleston, S.C., arriving there two days later.

Mason was decommissioned on 12 October; stricken on 1 November 1945: and sold and delivered at Charleston to Thomas Harris of Barber, N.J., on 18 March 1947 for scrapping. The motion picture Proud premiered in 2004 and highlights the service of the crew of the escort.

Updated by Mark L. Evans

Published:Tue Apr 19 21:31:12 EDT 2016