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Calvin Orthel Mason ( Pendleton 1945 )

posted: Jan 1, 2002

Calvin, an original member of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion "Triple Nickles" died Dec. 14, 2000. Born in Ft. Gibson, Okla. Aug. 21, 1928, he moved with his family to Kansas City, Mo. as a child and attended schools in that city. He then enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving until his discharge in 1970.

The Forest Service and the Army trained the Triple Nickles, the first all-black paratroop unit in the world, as smokejumpers in 1945. Working out of Pendleton, Ore. and Chico, Calif., they were dropped to fires throughout the Northwest during that summer.

After his retirement from the military, Calvin settled in Clarksville, Tenn., worked for the American National Life Insurance Co. and was active in the Masonic Lodge, St. John Missionary Baptist Church and the 555th Parachute Infantry Association.