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"They rescued the Jap pilot and he spoke English. They asked him what he thought of our defenses. He says, 'Your Navy gunfire stinks, but your pilots are damned good.'" (Video Interview, 49:12)

   Charles D. Mason
Image of Charles D. Mason
Charles Mason [detail from video]
War: World War, 1939-1945; Korean War, 1950-1953
Branch: Marine Corps
Unit: 1st Corps Medium Tank Battalion, 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division
Service Location: Tarawa Atoll (Gilbert Islands); Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands); also:
Rank: Master Sergeant
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Tanks aren't often associated with combat in the Pacific Theater of World War II, so Charles Mason's detailed memories of commanding a tank (named Cecilia) during several island invasions are important to our understandings of the mechanics of those campaigns. Just getting a tank off a landing craft and onto a beach took immense skill and fortitude. On Saipan, Mason watched as a Marine pilot who had just set down his plane immediately took off again to shoot down a harassing Japanese plane—whose rescued pilot gave a succinct assessment of American defense.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (2 clips)
»Complete Interview  
Download: video (1) | video (2) (105 min.)
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»The War
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (2 items)
Diesel tanks could work for two minutes underwater; landing on Tarawa; his tank named Cecilia, after the commander’s girlfriend. (04:50) Listening to Tokyo Rose before leaving Hawaii for Saipan; she announced where his platoon was landing; the “calm” landing on Saipan; losing a tank in the water with no casualties; a close call with incoming shell. (07:53) 
  
 
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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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