Korean War Legacy Project

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.

Video Clips

At the Chosin (Jangjin) Reservoir

Donald Mason recalls his experience at the Chosin (Jangjin) 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 bitterly cold it was.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Cold winters,Food,Front lines,Living conditions,Message to Students

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Revisiting Korea

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.

Tags: Incheon,Seoul,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Message to Students,Modern Korea,Physical destruction,Pride,Prior knowledge of Korea,South Koreans

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Incheon Landing

Donald Mason discusses his experience during the Incheon Landing. He knew it was high tide and shares that he was in a LST landing craft. His unit, the artillery unit, went in after the infantry landed, and they pushed beyond Incheon to Seoul. He was surprised at all of the destruction he witnessed.

Tags: 1950 Inchon Landing, 9/15-9/19,1950 Seoul Recapture, 9/22-9/25,Incheon,Seoul,Civilians,Depression,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Physical destruction,Poverty,South Koreans

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Thoughts about Going to War

Donald Mason discusses his feelings about going to war as a twenty-one-year-old. He remembers feeling hesitant but not scared. Much of his unit was made up of experienced soldiers from World War II. 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 talks about his time in Kobe, Japan.

Tags: Basic training,Civilians,Food,Prior knowledge of Korea,Weapons

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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. She shares that 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.

Tags: Impressions of Korea,Modern Korea,Pride,Women

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