Col. John J. Mason, USAF retired, was born on Oct. 2, 1921, in Swan Quarter, N.C. and passed away peacefully at his home in Emmett, Idaho on Sept. 3, 2013. He graduated from Swan Quarter High School in 1938 and joined the Army Air Corps as an airplane mechanic. In 1941, he qualified for pilot training and became a B-24 pilot completing 32 missions with the 8th Air Force in Europe between January and August of 1944.
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Upon completion of his tour in England, he was stationed at Gowen Field in Boise as an instructor pilot. In Boise, he met the love of his life, Alice Bishop and they shared the next 60 years together until her death in 2005.
In 1948, while stationed in Germany, he became one of the initial pilots in the Berlin airlift flying C-47s. Upon his return to the States, he transitioned to B-29s and participated in some of the early experimental air-to-air refueling operations. Later, he was trained in B-47s and became the squadron commander of a reconnaissance B-47 unit that flew the coasts of Russia. After tours in Ohio, Massachusetts, Alabama and Guam, he was assigned as the chief controller at Mountain Home Air Force Base in 1963. He was then selected for promotion to full colonel and finished his last two years of duty with the Strategic Air Command chief of staff at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Neb.
Upon retiring in 1967, after nearly 28 years of service, he received a liberal arts degree and master of counseling degree from the College of Idaho. He was hired by the Emmett School District in 1969 and served as a teacher, counselor and principal until 1977. He also served a term on the Emmett School Board.
He served as a director for the Gem County Drainage District and 12th Street Campbell Ditch for over 20 years. He was a member of the Emmett First Baptist Church and was active in raising funds for the CERT program.
In his retirement, he farmed, took cross country trips with Alice and spent time with his kids and grandchildren. He particularly enjoyed the time spent with his grandson Ben Boyd and was extremely proud of him.
John Mason was preceded in death by his wife, Alice, brothers Marvin and Clyde, sisters Gladys and Mary Elizabeth and stepson Buster Yates (Karly).
He is survived by his brother Harvey Mason; sister Marie Mason; children Debbie Mason and Mike Mason (Joy); grandchildren Ben Boyd (Robyn), John Mason, Joe Mason, Brenda Connelly and Terry Yates; great-grandchildren Brandon Yates, Colten Boyd and Blake Boyd; and niece Mona Jordan.
Over the last seven years, Dad showed his courage and determination in his battle with dementia and Alzheimer's every day. A special thanks to Dad's caretaker, Connie Smith, who dearly loved him and worked tirelessly to keep him at home and to Dr. James Thompson for this outstanding care over the years.
Dad loved his family, the Air Force and this country with all of his heart and was eternally grateful for what they had done for him. He often said, "When I pass away, do not shed a tear for me because I have had it all."
Like many members of the greatest generation, he was a good man who lived his life with honor and integrity. We will miss him.
Funeral services will be held on Monday Sept. 9, 2013, at 10:30 a.m. at the Potter Funeral Chapel in Emmett. Burial will follow at the Emmett Cemetery.
Published in Emmett Messenger Index from Sept. 5 to Oct. 4, 2013