After a seemingly endless battle, with tremendous courage
and loving permission from Mom, our hero chose to stop
fighting and go with God. He was not alone. He died where
he most loved to be, in Mom’s arms. Some of us were
holding his hand; all of us were holding his heart.
An excerpt from our father’s Bronze Medal Citation for
service during the Korean War follows;
“Serving as a Corpsman, Hospitalman Masterson displayed
exceptional ability, initiative and professional skill in the
performance of his duties. On one occasion several Marines
were brought to the out post where he was serving. His
immediate expert medical aid was instrumental in saving
the lives of the injured men. Later, when a man was seriously
wounded by artillery fire, he fearlessly exposed himself to the
intense hostile barrage and rendered aid and assist in the
evacuation of the stricken man. On many instances, he
exhibited complete disregard for his personal safety while
displaying a willingness to be of whatever assistance possible
in caring for his wounded comrades.”
Dad’s life as a husband, father and friend reflected the
selfless generosity and courage he displayed in Korea.
In the days when other expectant fathers paced hospital
waiting rooms, Dad was there holding Mom’s hand while
she delivered each and every one of us. I can only imagine
how he sweet talked his way into the delivery rooms.
One of his favorite tasks during the holidays was coming
home after working an eight hour night call into an eight
hour day shift at the funeral home to untangle the
Christmas lights. I remember how he used to pray under his
breathe while attempting to make all of the lights work. He
and Mom would be awake and busy all night until they
heard Santa, when they would finally lay their heads down
only for us to wake them an hour later.
While Dad was a volunteer firefighter he seldom spoke of the
lives he saved. On one rare occasion, I remember hearing
him talk to Mom about breaking the fall of a pregnant
woman as she jumped out the window of a burning
building. He was not proud of what he had done, but sorry
that he was unable to do more. He always wanted to do
Dad loved people and he especially loved to make them
laugh. He taught us to find humor in everything around us.
His outlook on life was to laugh when you’re happy, laugh
harder when you’re down. I will always remember the
nervous look Mom had on her face whenever Dad started
to tell a joke, and then that ever present echo… ”
Thomas…” What Dad’s jokes may have lacked in finesse,
they made up for in gusto.
His huge presence and gentle soul made an impression on all
those he met. He was a fast friend. His smile was contagious
and the stories he told were memorable and frequently filled
with humor. He would give you his last dollar if he thought
you needed it.
Dad was not one to wear his heart on his sleeve, but it was
clear to those who cared about him that he loved deeply
and passionately. He always put his family before himself and
asked for little in return. When we succeeded, he stood
back and took no credit, and when we failed, he was
always by our side to help pick up the pieces. We are all
proud when people say, as they often do, “Aren’t you Tom
Our hero is no longer suffering. The fight is over. He does not
want us to regret what might have been but to live and
laugh with happy memories and his love ever present in our
hearts. One of the last thing’s he said was, “This is the last
Hurrah”. In the true spirit of his philosophy, he left us with a
smile on his face.
If love could have saved you,
you would have lived forever.
March 11,1931 - February 4, 2007
Thomas L Masterson Jr