Donald L. Mason
Donald Lee Mason was born on July 19, 1929, in Whittier, California. He was the only child and was raised by his mother and grandparents. He graduated from Whittier High School in 1948. He does not remember learning anything about Korea while in school. After graduating, he joined a marine corps reserve unit. While in the reserve unit, he attended junior college until 1950. He was called to duty in 1950 and was sent to Camp Pendleton in California. While in training, he only learned about what was going on in Korea from the newspapers. He left San Diego in July or August, with a stop in Kobe, Japan, eventually landing in Incheon, Korea. He was stationed at the Chosin Reservoir over winter and left Korea in the summer of 1951.
At the Chosin Reservoir
Donald Mason recalls his experience at the Chosin Reservoir. He remembers having Thanksgiving dinner while there, and they stayed at the reservoir through Christmas. He was responsible for guarding the ammunition. He remembers how bitter cold it was.
Donald Mason discusses revisiting Korea in 2019 with his wife. He compares his visit then to what he remembered from his time in 1950. He remembers Seoul being destroyed during the war, with all the tall buildings gone. There were some huts still standing. But in 2019, he remembers seeing large skyscrapers from his hotel room. He was amazed at how the city was rebuilt to such an impressive scale.
Donald Mason discusses his experience during the Incheon Landing. He knew it was high tide. He was in an LST landing craft. His unit, the artillery unit, went in after the infantry landed. They pushed beyond Incheon to Seoul. He was surprised about all of the destruction he witnessed.
Thoughts About Going To War
Donald Mason discusses his feelings about going to war as a 21-year-old. He remembers feeling hesitant, but not scared. Much of his unit was made up of experienced soldiers from World War Two. He did know Korea was occupied by both China and Japan at points in history. In a way, he was excited about the new adventure. He also talks about his time in Kobe, Japan.
A Wife's Perspective
Donald Mason's wife, Sheri, recalls what he told her about the Korean War. She says he does not like to share much about Korea because it makes him emotional. She reflects on her visit to Korea, when she and her her husband visited. The trip was wonderful and she notes how appreciative the Korean people are. They both enjoyed the food and say they were treated like royalty. Sheri recalls that their hotel bed had a large sign on it saying "Our Hero." One of the most memorable events for her was visiting the DMZ.