World War II Story
Coming to Screen
By Irish America Staff
October / November 2003
The U.S.S. Mason’s Irish Connection.
The story of the U.S.S. Mason, the only WW II warship with an African American crew, is ready for the big screen. Starring Ossie Davis and Northern Ireland’s Stephen Rea, the movie will go on general release in February. The little-known story of the Mason, whose crew served with distinction throughout the war, is the work of filmmaker and author Mary Pat Kelly, who became interested in the story while working on a documentary, Home and Away–The Yanks in Ireland. While researching how American troops fared in Northern Ireland during the war, Kelly came across a newspaper clipping by Thomas Young, the only black war correspondent, who traveled with the crew of the Mason during the war. He wrote that the Mason’s first port of call was Northern Ireland, and “that the Irish were the first to treat African- Americans as Americans.”
The movie was well-received at recent “focus” screening at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. The audience was an eclectic mix of young black Americans and young leaders from Northern Ireland, one of whom commented that the movie made him proud to be there. ♦