Mason Patrick was born during the Civil War on December 13, 1863, in Lewisburg, West Virginia. His father was a surgeon in the Confederate Army. He entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1882, and graduated 2nd in his class and was commissioned a 2d Lt in the Corps of Engineers on June 12, 1886. Lt Patrick attended the Engineering School of Application in New York from June 1886 to June 1889, and then was assigned to direct river and harbor work in North and South Carolina from June 1889 to 1992. His next assignment was as an engineering instructor at West Point from 1892 to 1895, followed by service as an engineer working on rivers in Ohio and Tennessee from 1895 to 1897. Capt Patrick worked on Mississippi River improvements from 1897 to 1901, and then served in the office of the Chief of Engineers from 1901 to 1903. His next assignment was as an instructor and commander of the Detachment of Engineers at West Point from 1903 to 1907, followed by service as Chief Engineer with the Army of Cuban Pacification from 1907 to 1909. Col Patrick worked on river and harbor projects in Virginia from 1909 to 1912, and then in Michigan from 1912 to 1916. He organized and commanded the 1st Regiment of Engineers at San Antonio, Texas, and on the Mexican Border from 1916 to 1917, and then commanded the 1st Engineers in France from August 1917 to May 1918. Gen Patrick was made chief of the Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force in May 1918, and served in this position until returning to the U.S. after occupation duty in June 1919. He briefly returned to the Corps of Engineers, serving as Engineer of the Gulf Division in New Orleans, Louisiana, and then as Assistant Chief of Engineers, until returning to head the Army Air Service on October 5, 1921. Gen Patrick completed flying training and was awarded his pilot wings during this time, and became the first Chief of the Army Air Corps upon its creation on July 2, 1926. He retired from the U.S. Army Air Corps on December 12, 1927, and served as Public Utilities Commissioner for Washington, D.C., from 1929 to 1933. Mason Patrick died on January 29, 1942, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The U.S. Navy transport ship USS General M.M. Patrick (AP-150, later renamed USAT General M.M. Patrick, T-AP-150) was named in his honor in September 1944, and Patrick AFB, Florida, was named in his honor in August 1950.
His Army Distinguished Service Medal Citation reads:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Major General Mason M. Patrick, United States Army Air Service, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility during World War I. General Patrick displayed much ability and devotion to duty as Director of Construction and Forestry, and later as Chief of the Air Service of the American Expeditionary Forces, he perfected and ably administered the organization of this important Department.