WWII veteran Lee Mason dies at 96

Lee Mason told us about fighting across Europe in World War II.

World War II veteran Lee Mason has passed away. He was 96 years old.

Lee Mason fought through Europe in 1944 and 1945. He was at the Battle of the Bulge.

NewsChannel 9 featured Mr. Mason in a Price of Freedom story earlier this year:

Lee Mason was born in Etowah, He grew up in Athens, Tennessee.

"(I) came to Chattanooga in 1941," Mr. Mason said. "(I) went to work on construction."

He spent three years in the National Guard. He got out, and was then drafted into the Army.

"I was proud that I could go and serve my country," Mr. Mason said. "I (saw) a lot of the world I wouldn't have seen otherwise."

He was part of a 60 MM mortar section. They took a ship to Scotland, and from there they took a train to the front lines of the war.

"Some of it was in passenger cars, some of it was in box cars," Mr. Mason said. "(We would) be riding one day sun shining every which way. You wake up the next morning and you'd be in six or eight inches of snow."

He saw his first combat at the Battle of the Bulge. Mr. Mason says the soldiers had to be resourceful just to stay alive. Many of the soldiers who were there will tell you it's the coldest they've ever been. A lot of soldiers froze to death.

"They issued some shoes over there," Mr. Mason said. "Part of it was rubber and part of it was leather. It had a cushion in there, and I managed to get two pair of them cushions. I'd take them, and I'd put them in my belt line to keep them dry and warm. Every other day I'd change them out to keep from having frozen feet."

The Battle of The Bulge was the deadliest battle of the war, but the fighting didn't stop there.

"Me and three other guys were on guard," Mr. Mason said. "The Germans threw a shell in there, and got them all except me. They fell on me and everything else. (The blast) killed two , and wounded one. I was just lucky they protected me."

As Mr Mason's mortar section was pushing through Germany he found a camera in a house. He took dozens of pictures from early 1945 through early 1946.

"Back in WWII you walked everywhere. You didn't ride." Mr. Mason said.

He took pictures everywhere he walked. Just before battles, and after the fighting had ended. He has kept all of those pictures for the last seventy years.

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