Richard William Masson – Colonel, United States Air Force

From a contemporary press report

Richard William Masson, 68, a retired Air Force colonel whose 30-year career included combat missions during the Vietnam War and senior policy positions at the Pentagon and State Department, died of lung cancer September 4, 2000 at Washington Hospital Center.

Colonel Masson, who was a native of New York, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1955. He also graduated from the Naval War College and received a master's degree in international relations from Baylor University.

He taught political science at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs for six years before being shipped to Southeast Asia in 1967. He served as a C-130 aircraft instructor pilot and as chief airlift controller with the 314th Tactical Airlift Wing in Taiwan.

Among his war exploits was flying C-130 combat support missions to Marines shelled and surrounded by North Vietnamese troops at Khe Sanh near the demilitarized zone following the Tet offensive in 1968.

Later, in Washington during an assignment with the State Department's bureau of political-military affairs, he chaired two U.S.-Greek committees that negotiated continued U.S. military operating rights at installations in Greece.

At the Pentagon, as the Air Force's division chief of Middle East plans and policy, he helped develop policy on U.S. aircraft sales to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan, Egypt and Israel. He also served as senior U.S. Air Force planner for national security
issues at Air Force headquarters, executive officer to the Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations and plans, and division chief for Soviet military capabilities at the Defense Intelligence Agency's directorate of estimates.

Following his military retirement in 1985, Colonel Masson worked four years as a senior intelligence associate with the International Planning and Analysis Center Inc. in Washington and three years as director of government operations for
Florida-based Lake Aircraft Corp. His military decorations included the Legion of Merit. He was a member of the Army Navy Country Club and an avid tennis player.

Survivors include his wife of 45 years, Greta Masson of Arlington; two children, Lisa Masson of Annapolis and Richard W. Masson Jr. of Fairfax; a sister; and two grandsons.


On Monday, September 4, 2000, of Arlington, VA. Beloved husband of Greta Nilsson Masson; devoted father of Lisa Anne Masson of Annapolis, MD and Richard W. Masson, Jr. of Fairfax, VA; loving grandfather of Victor and Marshall Masson. Also surviving are his sister, Laurie Masson Masotti of Villanova, PA; two nieces and a nephew.  Funeral services will be held at the Old Post Chapel at Fort Myer on Wednesday, September 13 at 9:45 a.m. Interment Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to the Northern Virginia Hospice Fund, 5565 Arlington Blvd., Suite 500, Falls Church, VA 22042, in memory of Richard W. Masson Sr.


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