Monday, February 23, 2009

So My Dad Says To Me......

...."You know the USS Mason is named for a previous destroyer that was built down the street in the Navy Yard."

We were discussing pirates in the Gulf of Aden and the Navy's involvement. The current USS Mason DDG 87 assisted the MV Faina after she was released by the Somali pirates. The Mason is part of the Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group.
If you go to the history page at their official Navy website, you can read about it.
The second Mason (DE-529) was laid down by the Boston Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts, in October 1943 and launched 17 November 1942. The ship was commissioned 20 March 1944. Lieutenant William Blackford was the Commanding Officer. Mason served as convoy escort in the Atlantic through the remainder of World War II.

MASON (DE-529) has the distinction of being the only U.S. Navy destroyer to be manned with a predominantly black enlisted crew. This was the first time black Americans were permitted to be trained and serve in ratings other than cooks and stewards. In late 1943, the Navy announced its plan to place an all-black crew with white officers aboard MASON. One hundred and sixty black Sailors were enrolled in all fields of operational and technical training and manned the ship at commissioning. Although known as “Eleanor’s Folly” for Eleanor Roosevelt’s introduction of the idea for an all-black crew, the MASON served with distinction during World War II. During the worst North Atlantic storm of the Century, MASON was serving as an escort to a convoy of merchant ships bound for England. During the storm, the convoy was forced the break up and MASON was chosen to escort a section of ships to their destiny. With land in sight, MASON’s deck split under the strain of heavy sea, threatening the structural integrity of the ship. Emergency repairs were conducted and MASON returned immediately to assist the remainder of the convoy.

The MASON crew was recommended for commendation from their Captain, Lieutenant Commander Bill Blackford, and the Convoy Commander, Commander Alfred Lind. The commendations were never rewarded. At the end of the war MASON was assigned as a training ship operating from Miami, Florida until being decommissioned and sold for scrap in 1947. On July 26, 1947 President Truman signed Executive Order 9981, officially desegregating the Armed Forces.

Through the efforts of the Mason veterans and the author Mary Pat Kelly, the MASON story has been chronicled in the book “Proudly We Served.” Their persistence in telling the MASON story paid off in 1994 when President Clinton awarded the long-overdue commendation to sixty-seven surviving crewmembers. In 1998, the Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton made official his decision to name an Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer the USS MASON (DDG-87) in order to mark the contributions of USS MASON DE 529 Sailors equality and desegregation in today’s Navy.

Of course, Princess Crabby would correct them on one small's the Charlestown Navy Yard.

BZ to the officers and crew if the USS Mason DDG 87!

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