Ranger Ray Hadley Mason
Born: 15 March 1925 in Pryor, Oklahoma
Died: 7 December 1944 on Castle Hill(400) Bergstein, Germany
Army Serial Number: 38691360
Ranger Battalion/Company: 2nd Ranger BN/HQ & F Co
Battles/Campaigns/Significants: Hurtengen Forest/Castle Hill(400)
Medals/Awards: EAME Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, Purple Heart
Ray Hadley Mason was born in Pryor, Oklahoma in 15 March 1925. When Ray was 5 years old he was living with his grandparents in Pryor, Oklahoma. At age 14 he was still living with his grandparents but they listed him as their son. They were Charles M Mason and Elizabeth Ann Stomper. His grandfather worked on the WPA road construction. I was unable to confirm Ray’s father but know his mother must have been either Roxie Mae Mason or Walcie L Mason, both of which married in 1923. He always lived with and listed his grandparents as his contacts. He grew up with his grandparents and Vernie Mason, his uncle who was only 9 years older than Ray.
Ray signed up for the draft in Pryor, Oklahoma at the courthouse on 15 March 1943. Note it was on his birthday. He was 18 years of age, height 5’10”, weighed 163 lbs, brown eyes, brown hair and dark complexion. He was working for Jess Higgs in Pryor. He was living with his grandparents “Charlie”& “Betty”Mason.
Ray was inducted into the Army and the first time he shows up is in Neuchateau, France at the 14th Replacement Depot. This was a 3rd and 7th Army intermediate Depot. PVT Mason and 18 other enlisted men volunteered and joined the 2nd Ranger Battalion HQ Co on 17 October 1944. Ray had an MOS of 745 (rifleman). The 2nd Rangers were in Arlon, Belgium. Ray was transferred into F Co along with 14 other enlisted men on 21 October 1944 while in Esch, Luxembourg.
The 2nd Battalion took a break in Esch. Men wrote letters home and football games were conducted much to the curiosity and amusement of the townspeople. A zealous staffer on 27 October got Esch off limits to the Rangers. Colonel Rudder was furious and by 1500 hours on October 28th the town was back on limits and passes were issued. This would be the last time the men got for a break before the Rangers faced probably the bloodiest fighting of their military career. On 3 November 1944 they were loaded into trucks and the next objective Hurtgen Forest. The men endured many cold, wet, muddy and frozen days and nights. They endured the cold without a hot meal or coffee. The ground is frozen and what was once a forest became a mangle of uprooted trees. There were mortars and shelling by the Germans. Besides casualties many Rangers were treated for frostbite and trench foot. The most desired item was clean dry socks. On the 27 of November Germans had retreated and a group of officers scrounged up fresh water, food, dry socks, ammunition and more blankets. Ray and his BN enjoyed a break with a good meal with hot coffee, dry socks, warm blankets and an uninterrupted sleep.
On 6 December the 2nd Rangers were loaded on trucks. They were transported from Germeter to just outside of Bergstein, Germany. The objective was to take Castle Hill (400). A,B & C Companies would take defensive position around the town. D,E & F companies were to assault and capture Castle Hill (code word Sugarloaf). On the morning of 7 December 1944 at 08:00 F Company moved up to attack. F Company and other companies were able to reach their objective but at a great cost. They came under heavy German artillery fire and mortars. F Company had many KIA including Ranger Ray Mason. By the end there were only about 5 Fox Company Rangers that were not MIA, KIA or wounded.
PVT Ray Hadley Mason was only 19 years old when he was Killed In Action at Castle Hill in Bergstein, Germany. He was interred at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in Margraten, Netherlands.