- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 29, 2004

KING GEORGE, Va. — About 1,300 mourners packed a high school auditorium yesterday to remember and eulogize a National Guardsman who was killed in a suicide bombing last week in Mosul, Iraq.

“All the tears that flow, flow with a head held high because I am so proud,” Vic Mason, father of Army Sgt. Nicholas Mason, said in a eulogy.

Sgt. Mason, who was promoted posthumously from the rank of specialist, was killed with 12 other service members Dec. 21, when an Iraqi terrorist exploded a bomb inside a mess hall tent at Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul. Five American civilians and three Iraqi national guard members also were killed.

In his hometown yesterday, a funeral was held in Sgt. Mason’s memory in the only place there big enough to hold all the people who knew and loved him — King George High School, where he graduated in 2002. His father and mother sat in the front row.

Hundreds of mourners filled the school’s auditorium, cafeteria and gym. In a tribute to Sgt. Mason’s love of duct tape, many wore ribbons made from the silver electrical tape.

“Nick subscribed to the theory that the only tool that a real man needs is a roll of duct tape,” said the Rev. Richard Finck, who baptized Sgt. Mason in 1985 at Peace Lutheran Church in King George.

“I wondered if he’d have a case of duct tape shipped to Iraq to help fix things,” said Mr. Finck, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Chester, Va. “In Iraq, Nick ran up against something that duct tape could not fix.”

Three soldiers from Sgt. Mason’s unit — 229th Engineer Battalion in Fredericksburg, Va. — were home on leave yesterday and attended the ceremony to say goodbye to the 20-year-old former wrestler.

Dressed in their pressed desert camouflage uniforms, Staff Sgt. Tony Cruz and Spc. Frank Canas embraced each other in the winter sunlight outside the high school.

For more than three hours, a steady stream of mourners filed past Sgt. Mason’s flag-draped casket to get a glimpse of the one-time firefighter and jokester.

His buddies at the King George fire department wept as bagpipes played “Amazing Grace,” and a fire bell rang 25 times.

Sgt. Mason has been bestowed the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, a Good Conduct medal and a Virginia Legion of Merit medal.

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