MCC scholarship honors fallen hero, alumnus

Matt Mason250x250

100 Years, 100 Stories

A Kearney, MO, native and Navy SEAL’s name lives on through a scholarship for Metropolitan Community College students.

In remembrance of athlete and national hero Matt Mason, the MCC Foundation, along with Matt’s friends and family, established a scholarship to be awarded to future baseball players who exhibit the navy SEAL’s values and passion for the game.

Mason was serving as a member of the elite Naval Special Operations Command ( SOC) when his Navy SEAL team was involved in a fatal helicopter crash.  Mason, along with 37 other service members, were killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan in August 2011 .

Before Mason became a Navy SEAL he attended MCC- Maple Woods and played baseball. After graduating from Kearney High School in 1993, Matt enrolled at MCC-Maple Woods,  where he was a leader on the baseball team for two years. He played as the right-fielder for the Maple Woods Monarch Basebeall team.

Chancellor Mark James, who is also from Kearney, is honored to have the opportunity to recognize a man who continues to touch so many lives.

After graduating from MCC, Mason then went on to Northwest Missouri State University, where he was an active member of the Delta Chi fraternity. “During Matt’s high school and college days, he was a gifted athlete and succeeded in both football and baseball,” said Bobby Wisdom, who played baseball with Mason at Maple Woods. “Matt was a loyal teammate whose work ethic, dedication, and passion inspired everyone around him to be better and work harder.”

After graduating from Northwest with a Bachelor of Science degree, Matt enlisted in the United States Navy in 1999. He graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUDS) training after completing months of physically grueling and demanding drills and exercises, and was assigned to SEAL Team Three. In November 2004, while Matt was a sniper assigned to Marine Patrol in Fallujah, Iraq, his unit was involved in heavy fire fight with Iraqi insurgents and Matt was severely injured by a mortar round. Numerous surgeries and months of physical therapy later, Matt recovered from his injuries. Soon, was selected to compete for a slot at the Navy Special Warfare Developmental Group, otherwise known as the Naval Special Operations Command (SOC). In 2006, Matt began the selection and training process with this elite group. He endured seven months of the most intense training offered in the military, and upon successful completion, he reported to Naval Special Warfare Tactical and Development Group. Matt was now part of the top tier of US Military Special Forces. SOC Mason completed numerous deployments around the world and combat deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. In his nearly twelve years of service, this brave warrior earned many awards for his dedicated service to our country. “Matt possessed a great love for life’s adventures and this passion was contagious,” said Wisdom. “He impacted many lives, including those who never had the honor of meeting this great man. Matthew Mason was a remarkable husband, a dedicated father, and a loyal friend and teammate.”

Matt Mason Event

In 20012, MCC-Maple Woods hosted a tribute ceremony for its former team leader- praising the athletic talent and giving praise to his work ethic, kindness and dedication to family and country. His Son Levi through out the ceremonial first pitch continuing the family baseball tradition in the name of his father.

“I think he would be so proud of what everyone has done here,”  wife Jessica Mason said. “It means a lot to our family that Matt’s legacy us going to be continued and honored here.”

Family, friends and classmates of Chief Petty Officer Matt Mason have worked to keep his name alive and raise funds to underwrite a scholarship to honor the fallen hero. His friends say this scholarship helps them remember the man they all loved.

“Matt was an amazing person and an amazing baseball player. I remember several times in practice we’d be running sprints at the end and everyone would be bent over huffing and puffing and Matt would be full of energy and couldn’t wait for the coach to say go,” said Jason Key, Mason’s friend.

The first scholarship was awarded during the 2013-2014 academic year. Another scholarship was awarded for the 2014-2015 academic year. Family and friends hope to  keep the Matt Mason Scholarship active and to continue to help future MCC students.

The Matt Mason Memorial “Cowboy UP!” Triathlon has been established to honor, pay tribute, support and celebrate the lives of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. This triathlon is our way to stay close to our dear friend and keep his memory alive while focusing on supporting others like him and their families.