Private First Class Leonard F. Mason, 24, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry in action when, despite serious wounds, he singlehandedly charged and wiped out an enemy machine gun position on Guam, 22 July 1944. He died of his wounds the following day aboard USS Elmore (APA-42), stationed offshore. An automatic rifleman, he had participated in the initial landing on Guam on 21 July.
Pfc. Mason was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart.
Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal presented the Medal of Honor to Pfc. Mason's mother with his two sisters witnessing the presentation. Pfc. Mason is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial as he was buried at sea by the crew of the Elmore.
Leonard Foster Mason was born in Middlesboro, Kentucky on February 22, 1920, the fourth of 13 children and the first son of Hillary and Mollie Rachel (Partin) Mason. He later moved to Lima, Ohio, where he worked for the Superior Body Works.
He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in April 1942 at Cleveland, Ohio and was promoted to Private First Class in March 1943. He was stationed at Marine barracks for training at Paris Island, South Carolina, then at the Naval Proving Ground, Indian Head, Maryland and finally at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Ordered into the field in October 1943, he was sent to the Pacific and served as an Automatic Rifleman. Pfc. Mason went overseas in October 1943, and took part in combat on Bougainville with the 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division. At Guam, he was part of the 2d Battalion, 21st Marine Regiment, 3d Marine division.
He was wounded in an attack on Japanese forces on Guam on July 22, 1944, and died aboard USS Elmore (APA-42) the following day. The Elmore's War Diary entry for 22 July 1944 notes the following: "Throughout the day, continued to unload troops and cargo, and to receive casualties. All ships of the Task Group remained in the Transport Area during the night."
His citation reads: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as an automatic rifleman serving with the 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, 3d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on the Asan-Adelup Beachhead, Guam, Marianas Islands on 22 July 1944. Suddenly taken under fire by 2 enemy machine guns not more than 15 yards away while clearing out hostile positions holding up the advance of his platoon through a narrow gully, Pfc. Mason, alone and entirely on his own initiative, climbed out of the gully and moved parallel to it toward the rear of the enemy position. Although fired upon immediately by hostile riflemen from a higher position and wounded repeatedly in the arm and shoulder, Pfc. Mason grimly pressed forward and had just reached his objective when hit again by a burst of enemy machine gun fire, causing a critical wound to which he later succumbed. With valiant disregard for his own peril, he persevered, clearing out the hostile position, killing 5 Japanese, wounding another and then rejoining his platoon to report the results of his action before consenting to be evacuated. His exceptionally heroic act in the face of almost certain death enabled his platoon to accomplish its mission and reflects the highest credit upon Pfc. Mason and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”
Leonard Mason Memorial
Memorial Park Cemetery & Mausoleums · Lima, OH