Army Staff Sgt. Anthony L. Mason

Died September 17, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

Pentagon IDs 4 Texans killed in chopper crash

The Associated Press

DALLAS — Seven National Guardsmen — including four from Texas — were on their way from Kuwait to Balad to join their unit last week when their helicopter crashed in Iraq, the Texas National Guard said Monday.

The four Texans killed in Thursday’s crash were: Chief Warrant Officer Corry A. Edwards, 38, of Kennedale; Sgt. Anthony L. Mason, 37, of Springtown; 1st Sgt. Julio C. Ordonez, 54, of San Antonio; and 1st Lt. Robert Vallejo II, 28, of Richland Hills.

Three soldiers from the Oklahoma National Guard were also died.

“As we grieve with so many in our community over this extremely unfortunate news, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these citizen-soldiers,” said Lt. Gen. Charles G. Rodriguez, adjutant general of the Texas National Guard.

The soldiers had been called to active duty on June 5. After completing two-and-a-half months of training at Fort Sill, Okla., the soldiers were deployed to Kuwait on Aug. 24, the Texas National Guard said in a news release.

The CH-47 Chinook was flying in a four-helicopter formation from Kuwait to the U.S. military base at Balad when it crashed about 60 miles west of Basra. Military officials say they suspect a mechanical malfunction.

The soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment, Task Force 34, Texas Army National Guard in Grand Prairie.

Vallejo, a pilot who was posthumously promoted to captain, is survived by his wife Hillary Ann. He joined the National Guard in April 1999.

Edwards, posthumously promoted to chief warrant officer 2, is survived by his wife, Nanette, and sons, Killian Hunter and Logan Samuel. Edwards joined the military in December 1992. From June 2003 to April 2004, he served in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Mason, posthumously promoted to staff sergeant, is survived by his wife, Melanie Laree, and daughters, Ashley Nicole, Jamie Rosalee and Megan Irene.

Mason, who also served in Iraq from February 2003 to September 2003, joined the Texas Army National Guard last year. He attended basic training and advanced individual training to become a helicopter engineer.

Ordonez, posthumously promoted to sergeant major, is survived by his wife Leticia, sons Julio and Jacob, and daughters Joyce and Judith. Ordonez, born in Honduras, joined the military in April 1982. Before joining the Texas Army National Guard, he served with HHC, 6-112th in Arkansas as a helicopter engineer, the Texas National Guard said.

Staff sergeant remembered as a jokester

The Associated Press

Staff Sgt. Anthony L. Mason’s brother, Wesley, and his sister, Annette Cihak, remember their brother as a “good ol’ boy” who loved nothing more than to rile folks for a laugh.

“He made a career out of making my life miserable,” Cihak said. “There was a lot of fun at my expense.”

Mason, 37, of Springtown, Texas, was killed Sept. 18 in a helicopter crash near Tallil. He was assigned to Grand Prairie, Texas, and served two tours in Iraq.

Wesley said Luke was always interested in doing mechanical work and ended up working for his father-in-law, who had served in the Air Force. He later decided he could serve his country by applying his mechanical knowledge to helicopters.

Mason is survived by his wife, Melanie Laree, and daughters, Ashley Nicole, Jamie Rosalee and Megan Irene.

Always mechanically-minded, Luke seemed able to make anything run. Wesley recalled that when Luke worked at a bowling alley, his car got stolen at least three times. Each time, he’d find it, take it back and get it running again.

When he traded it in, the dealer asked for the keys. Mason handed him a screwdriver.