Matt Mason was born on March 26, 1974, in Kansas City, Missouri. After completing his bachelor’s degree at Northwest Missouri State University in 1998, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy on May 20, 1999, and went on active duty to begin basic training on October 25, 1999. Mason completed basic training at NTC Great Lakes, Illinois, in December 1999, and then attended Information Systems Technician training at NTC Great Lakes from January to June 2000. Petty Officer Mason next attended Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training at NAB Coronado, California, from June 2000 to January 2001, followed by Jump School at Fort Benning, Georgia, in February and March 2001, and then SEAL Qualification Training from March to June 2001. His first assignment was with SEAL Team ONE at NAB Coronado from July 2001 to November 2004, and then with SEAL Team THREE at NAB Coronado from November 2004 to May 2006. His final assignment was with Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) at Dam Neck Annex, Virginia, from June 2006 until he was killed in action when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter he was aboard was shot down in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. While serving with SEAL Team One, Petty Officer Mason deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004, where he was badly wounded during combat operations in Fallujah. He also deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom multiple times.
His 2nd (of 3) Bronze Star Medal w/Valor Citation reads:
For heroic achievement in connection with combat operations against the enemy as an Assault Team Member for a Joint Task Force in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM on 17 March 2010. On this date, Petty Officer First Class Mason was part of an assault force during a daring nighttime raid against a heavily armed senior enemy commander. Upon setting containment, the assault force was engaged by several armed enemy fighters who were quickly eliminated, while more fighters used the cover of women and children to move to barricaded positions within the compound. In the exchange of fire, one of Petty Officer First Class Mason’s teammates was severely wounded by enemy fire causing him to fall directly in front of the barricaded fighters’ position. With complete disregard for his own safety and while under heavy enemy fire, Petty Officer First Class Mason fought his way into the compound, suppressing the enemy fire while maneuvering to his wounded teammate. With enemy rounds impacting all around him, he held his ground and engaged the barricaded fighters, providing life saving covering fire that allowed his teammates to pull the wounded assaulter to safety. His heroic bravery during intense combat operations is an inspiration to all who serve with him. By his extraordinary guidance, zealous initiative, and total dedication to duty, Petty Officer First Class Mason reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
The Combat Distinguishing Device is authorized.