U.S.S. Mason

On March 20, 1944, at the Charleston shipyard in Boston, MA, the USS Mason was commissioned, or placed into active service, by the Governor of the state, the city’s mayor, and the ship’s new captain, William M. Blackford. The ship sailed for Belfast, Ireland, its first port of call, to join the British and American “Battle of the Atlantic.”

During W.W.II only one American Navy warship carried an African American crew into combat, The U.S.S. Mason. It was the job of smaller, easier to handle destroyer escort ships, like the USS Mason, to guard and protect the larger merchant vessels which carried badly needed supplies between the US and Europe. The mission of D. E?s was to stop German submarines, or  U-boats, from sinking the larger ships with their deadly torpedoes. Although segregated on this one navel fighting ship, the men of the USS Mason were well-trained and bravely accepted and carried out the job they were given. 

But when it was time for the rewards that were given to other successful United States service men–such as receiving letters of commendation from their government, or even hot dogs and cokes at friendly ports they visited after risking their lives at sea in battle, the men of the USS Mason were told, “whites only.” The story of these brave sailors was left out of most history books and forgotten by the nation they honorably served. Why?– because racism dictated national policy and practices at this time.