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Mary Berry and Mason Wilt Quickly Fell in Love in Lubbock

Posted by: tdt -

Mary Berry and Mason Wilt Quickly Fell in Love in Lubbock

By JOHN W. McCULLOUGH Special to The Texan
Editor’s Note: This is the 42nd article in a series on Dalhart Army Airfield during WWII.


In the last article, Mason Wilt completed his last twenty minutes of glider pilot training at South Plains Army Air Field (SPAAF) in Lubbock.

His thoughts, however, always trailed back to that very pretty young woman whom he met at a USO dance, Mary Ruth Berry.

“As the days went by, all I could think about and dream about at night was Mary. She was beautiful, she was friendly and I had fallen in love for the first and last time in my life,” wrote Wilt in his manuscript.

As Mary Ruth Berry recalled in her manuscript, she met Mason Wilt at a USO dance in Lubbock.

“In 1941, I moved and lived on Broadway with Brother and Mrs. Robinson. He was a Methodist preacher. I helped her with house cleaning and cooking,” Mary wrote.

“I saved my money and, in the spring of 1942, I went to Texas Tech. I was so happy that I was going to college.”

“Since we were in the war, Rex was in the army. Ora and I really missed him.”

Mary Berry’s older brother, Rex, was killed in action in North Africa on June 13th, 1943.

“Ora and I started going to USO dances. We met lots of soldiers and had lots of fun. We dated some, but didn’t go steady. I dated some Tech students and went to Tech dances.”

“Ora called me and we went to a USO dance. We always went together and about nine o’clock we decided to leave and go over to Wyler’s Drug store and get a Coke. Just as we were leaving, two soldiers walked up. One of them walked up and said to me, ‘Are you leaving?’”

“I said yes. He said, ‘Won’t you come and have a dance with me?’”

“Ora and I went back and danced with him,” Mary Berry wrote.

“His name was Mason Wilt. He was so sweet and polite. He asked me if I came there very often. I told him I went to Tech and we were called when they needed us.”

“Several weeks passed and Ora and I were at a funeral dance at the Lubbock Hotel. Fred Lewis tagged Ora on the dance floor and said he wanted her phone no. for a soldier that had been trying to find her.”

“When he came over to me, he looked at her and then at me. He said it was me that he wanted the no. for his friend,” Mary Berry recalled.

Mason Wilt’s manuscript picked it from here.

During his off-duty time at SPAAF, Mason Wilt played black jack with the other glider pilots.

His good buddy, Fred Lewis, knew that Wilt was looking for Mary and decided to help.

“One night, he came in and said he had found Mary at a dance he went to. Actually, he had found her sister, Ora, and told her about how I had been looking for her ever since I met her at the USO dance. Somehow or other, he got a phone number from her,” Wilt said.

Wilt called Mary and made a date with her for the next Saturday night. She was a Physical Education major in her freshman year at Texas Tech.

“Unfortunately, by the time Saturday rolled around, I had lost some money playing black jack and was short of funds.”

“Mary and I finally decided to go to a movie on College Avenue (the Tech Theater).”

Wilt recalled that admission was 25 cents each for soldiers and Tech students.

Mason Wilt’s last entry in his manuscript read:

“From then, we started going steady. I think Mary fell in love with me fairly soon. We went bowling and to movies. We ate out often. Shrimp cocktails and steak dinners (about $1 each).”
Mary Berry’s manuscript continued with:

“The next afternoon, Mason called and he wanted to see me. I accepted and he came by. We went for a walk and to get a Coke. We liked each other from the start and started dating. He was transferred to Dalhart, TX and was in a glider crash and was in the hospital.”

“We had talked about marriage and before he left [for Dalhart AAF] he gave me my engagement ring. I was staying at Mrs. Johnson’s on 15th St. and doing housework for Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Denemon.”

Staff Sgt. Mason S. Wilt was involved in a very serious glider accident at Dalhart AAF on February 9, 1943. He survived the crash but with very serious injuries which required immediate surgery.

Mary Berry continued, “I went to see him [at Dalhart] and he was in critical condition. He was there several weeks. He came back to Lubbock and was sent to San Antonio where they told him he couldn’t fly anymore. He stayed in Lubbock for several weeks and was sent to Wichita Falls, TX.”

More about the history of Dalhart AAF in WWII will be discussed in the next article.

Readers are encouraged to visit Silent Wings Museum on I-27 at Exit 9 just north of Lubbock to learn more about the glider program of WWII (www. Email John McCullough at john.w.mccullough@ if you can help with his research.

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