The U.S.S. Mason (DD-852) was a Gearing-class destroyer. A Gearing-class destroyer was a ship built for the U.S. Navy during and after World War II. The U.S.S. Mason was one of 98 destroyers and launched on January 4th, 1946, and commissioned on June 28, 1946. The destroyer was named after Private First-Class Leonard F. Mason, U.S. Marine Corp. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Battle of Guam. His mother, Mrs. Hilary Mason, sponsored the launching of the U.S.S. Mason. The ship participated in many operations during its thirty years. On March 17, 1966, the ship picked up two astronauts, Major David Scott, USAF, and Neil Armstrong, when their capsule, the Gemini VIII, splashed in the waters southeast of Okinawa. The destroyer provided gunfire support off Vietnam until June 1966. Yokosuka, Japan was her home port from May 1960 to May 1962, and from July 1964 to July 1967 and again in August 1968 and into 1969. The destroyer was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on November 2, 1976.
This week we salute John Kuykendall. John served in the U.S. Navy from 1965 to 1969, leaving service as an E-5. John and his wife moved to Forsyth in 2017. He is a regular at the Rusty Dog and you can see him proudly wearing his U.S.S. Mason (DD-852) ball cap. John and his wife have two children and five grandchildren. They moved to Montana to be with one of his granddaughters who is a schoolteacher in Colstrip. When asked what his favorite memory was of his time in the service, he said when he and his wife lived in Japan. The Japanese people were so friendly and kind.
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Dr. Irene Dickerson has a doctorate in Business Administration and is a retired Army Colonel living her best life in Big Sky Country.