Staff Sgt. Johnnie V. Mason of Rio Vista, Texas was born in Germany, where his father was stationed, and moved to Rio Vista, Texas, as a teenager. His best friend and brother-in-law, Jesse, recalled their childhood experiences; Boy Scouts, driver's ed, scaring the younger kids in the neighborhood. The two would spook grade school age kids camping in the area by telling them scary stories and showing up after dark wearing masks and rattling chains. His father signed a waiver to allow him to join the Army Reserve early, and he went to active duty right after graduating from high school. He became a crew chief on a Black Hawk helicopter, and met his future wife while stationed in Germany in 1995. He the Army in October 1992 and arrived at Fort Campbell September 2001. He knew the dangers of his job and told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview that IEDs were becoming bigger and more deadly. "The insurgents who make them are getting smarter, so we have to get smarter too," he told the newspaper. He was a proud soldier who loved his job and his family and always saw the lighter side of life. His friends and family will remember him as a loyal, hard-working man with a strong sense of dedication to his family and his soldiers, and a quirky sense of humor. He managed to find humor in everything he did. He had always been quick with a smile, a good sense of humor and a good heart. He was very proud of the job that he did and it showed. He was very professional. In addition to being a soldier, Johnnie was a reserve deputy with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, as a bomb squad volunteer. Johnnie also served in Operation Provide Comfort in Turkey in 1991 as a Black Hawk crew chief. He went to school to become an EOD specialist in 2000. He also was instrumental in designing the EOD truck used on Fort Campbell. His awards and decorations include an Army Commendation Medal, Army Aviator Badge, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and expert Weapons Qualification badge. He was less than a month away from returning to the United States when he was killed at age 32.
717th Ordnance Company
184th Ordnance Battalion
52nd Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordnance Detachment)
Fort Campbell, Ky.
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