SSG Johnnie Mason, RIP

Staff Sergeant Johnnie Mason was smiling when I met him, a few days after he had dodged death. He was part of an Army bomb squad team in Mahmudiyah, not far from Baghdad. An improvised explosive device, stuffed underneath a set of corpses, detonated just feet away from him in mid-July. Only his kevlar bomb suit — and a quick duck behind a mound of dirt — kept him alive.
071605 086.jpgIf Mason was bothered by the experience, he didn’t show it. “All I’ve got is a little short-term memory loss. There are four roads on post — I keep getting lost,” he laughed.
But he had enough wherewithall to get back to work, he promised his commanding officer. Mason eyes grew big, and he cracked a toothy grin, when he got the okay.
I shook my head in wonder at Mason’s easy-going bravery then.
Now, I’m cradling my head in my hand, after getting this message from Sergeant Jon Ferraro, from the “Baghdad Bomb Squad.”

On 19 December 2005 @ 23:30, my team leader SSG Johnnie V. Mason was killed in the line of duty in Al Mahmudiyah, Iraq. We were working on an IED in the median of a road, when a possible secondary IED was found in our safe area. SSG Johnnie Mason responded immediately to the secondary and took immediate actions on the device. He was trying to safe the device when it detonated…killing him instantly from the explosion (at exactly 23:30). He saved at least 4 soldiers that night who were within feet of the device. SSG Johnnie Mason is a fallen brother. A brother in arms. An EOD brother. A husband to his wife Brook and a father to his 2 step children: Ashley (18) and Adam (16). He will not be forgotten. His loss will not be in vain.
He was my team leader. He was my NCO. He was my best friend. He was my brother. I have never gotten so close to someone in such a short time. I first met Johnnie when I got to Ft.Campbell, KY back in January of this year. I found out he was going to be my team leader for Iraq back in March. Ever since then we have been inseparable and we’ve had a brothers bond.
We were Team 8 “Jokers”. When we rolled out on an incident, everyone knew who we were. Johnnie was a joker. He’s the guy that makes everyone laugh and smile. Everyone liked him or loved him. He was always in a good mood and made the best out of every situation. He was cool under pressure and was an amazing team leader. He taught me alot as a person, as an EOD [explosive ordnance disposal] tech…and soon to be husband. We had fun on every incident we ran. We ran safely, as fast as possible, and held high standards as a team. Everywhere we went on post, someone would say hey to Johnnie from the lowest ranking private to the Brigade Commander. Everyone knew him.
I ask that everyone take a moment of silence and pray for his family and friends during this horrible time. I ask God to keep them strong and safe during this time of Christmas. I ask that you forward this to all the EOD techs you know and the friends and loved ones of his.
Thank you and God bless,
SGT Jonathan M. Ferraro
717th Ordnance Company (EOD)

UPDATE 12/22 8:52 AM: More on Johnnie here and here. If you’re interested in sending condolences or flowers, e-mail me.
UPDATE 12/25 11:46 AM: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has some choice snippets of Johnnie’s battlefield humor. And the Ft. Worth Star Telegram hangs out with Johnnie’s Dad.

  • salmonking

    Johnnie; I didn’t know you personally, but I knew of you. You are the brave American soldier that would do whatever it took to get the job done, or go the extra mile to save somebody’s life. You are the soldier that every C O wanted in his company. You are American soldier that lesser men tried to be like. You are the American soldier that most people dream of being. God speed Brave Soldier. You will not be forgotten. Rest in peace Johnnie.

  • Larry Harmon

    Thank you for posting this along with the picture. I am SSGT Johnnie Mason’s cousin, we recieved word about his tragedy yesterday and I have spent several hours looking for any kind of information that I could. Luckily I found several articles relating to the work he did in Iraq.
    It has been a very long time since I last saw him and the picture was really what I had hoped to find. I copied the article and the photo and forwarded it on to his father and other relatives.
    His family is deeply apprecative for all your kind words.

  • Ben Fan

    Oh God, this is so sad.
    I DARE those liberals to confront a fallen soldier’s family and tell them that their son or brother died in useless vain in a war for oil!!!

  • L Compnotta

    You died for something you loved your Country and you fellow men. I served with the EOD in the 1ST SFG in 1972 but never did what you men are going though now. I belive in FREEDOM but not at the price it’s taken on our young ones and families.Please keep the faith in god and come home I’m 100% service conceted but if I could I would beover there in a heart beat
    RIP Johnny

  • ukn

    God bless your soul SSG Mason…You saved our lives in mahmudiyah soo many times…..and I personally couldnt ever thank you enough for it….

  • Scott, Irene

    Im sorry for the lost of SSG Johnnie Mason, May God strenght the soldiers who knew him well and his family members as they go a most trying time.

  • CPT Joseph M. Popiel

    I was so very sorry to hear about his untimely death.
    I had the opportunuity to graduate EOD School with Johnnie. Johnnie was an outgoing person and good friend. He was always there to make us laugh. I’ll never forget our time at the Red Stone Alabama.
    Johnnie was a good person and a great soldier.
    God Bless You Brother!

  • mc donnell

    Miss you pal, always

  • mc donnell

    Miss you pal, we were a team “Jokers Heavy”.

  • Lanna Vereen Edmonds

    I went to school and graduated with Johnnie, he was always smiling and easy going then as well. He made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can continue to live the way we do in freedom. Thank you to all who risk their lives for us!

  • Bill Caraway

    I remember Johnnie coming across the street to tell me how to put up a storage shed I had just bought because he had the same one. He was telling me how much he loved his job, and was trying to recruit me to EOD. I will tell you one thing he had me darn near ready to change my MOS, and my wife almost as convinced. He would tell me about making fireworks on 4th of July with his EOD teammates. Just about every time he saw me he was asking if I was ready to come be EOD. He loved that job. He is going to be missed.

  • Mike

    Im forever in debt to your father he saved my life that night….i think about him everyday

  • cory

    Love ya brother

  • MAJ D. Moore (ret)

    It’s been years Jonnie, but we’ve not forgotten about you. I commanded the company that providied security for Johnnie and SSG Peche’s teams. Anyone who knows Peche, knows what I’m talking about. I thought the “Hurt Locker” was written around him. Johnnie was a stud. Professional, and a good soldier.