Joe Mason was born on April 10, 1915, in Washington, D.C. He enlisted in the Flying Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Corps on October 1, 1937, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Kelly Field, Texas, on October 5, 1938. Lt Mason flew bombers at Mitchel Field, New York, from October 1938 until going into the reserves in October 1939, and then returned to active duty and served with the 35th Pursuit Squadron of the 8th Pursuit Group at Langley Field, Virginia, from April 29, 1940, to June 1941. Maj Mason next served as commander of the 59th Fighter Squadron of the 33rd Fighter Group from June 1941 to July 1942, followed by service as a squadron commander and operations officer with the 324th Fighter Group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, until May 1943. Col Mason became commander of the 352nd Fighter Group at Mitchel Field, New York, in May 1943, and deployed with the group to England in July 1943. He flew 78 combat missions and was credited with destroying 5 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 2 damaged before returning to the U.S. in November 1944. His next assignment was as base commander at Oscoda, Michigan, and then as deputy base commander of Selfridge Field, Michigan, from February to July 1945, followed by service as base commander at Millville Field, New Jersey, until January 1946. He then served on the base staff at Mitchel Field, New York, from February to June 1946, and then served on the staff of 10th Air Force at Brooks Field, Texas, from June 1946 to August 1947. After completing Air Command & Staff College in June 1948, Col Mason served on the staff of the Flying Division of Air Training Command at Randolph AFB, Texas, from July 1948 to March 1949, and he then served as commanding officer of the 3595th Pilot Training Wing at Los Vegas AFB, Nevada, until January 1951. He attended Air War College from January to June 1951, followed by service as deputy commander and then commander of the 49th Fighter-Bomber Wing in Korea from July 1951 to July 1952, during which time he flew 18 combat missions. Col Mason served several tours with Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon, and was stationed in England from June 1958 to June 1962. His final assignment was as Civil Air Patrol-U.S. Air Force Commander from 1964 until his retirement from the Air Force on June 1, 1967. Joe Mason died on June 18, 1974, and was buried at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.
His Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Joe Lennard Mason, Colonel (Air Corps), U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Pilot of a P-51 Fighter Airplane in the 352d Fighter Group, EIGHTH Air Force, in aerial combat against enemy forces on 8 May 1944. Colonel Mason's unquestionable valor in aerial combat is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 8th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces.