ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — A local World War Two Veteran is sharing stories of survival during his time in the military.
97 year old Al Masood has a beautiful scrapbook from his time in the Navy. He enlisted after high school in Altoona in 1942. And as World War Two was getting underway, he learned how to be an aircraft mechanic.
While stationed in Panama and Nicaragua, it wasn’t long before Al had his first brush with death. During a flight on his patrol bomber, on a whim, he decided to go up to the cockpit.
“I walked up in the cockpit, looked at radar screen, and yelled at the captain, hard to starboard quick, there’s a plane coming right at us. He laid that thing on its right wing and we could see the other pilot on his controls going the other way,” Masood said.
“I said to the kid, What did you think that was? I didn’t know. But you are the radar-man! I didn’t know what it was either but I knew it wasn’t good. It was right in front of us. I couldn’t believe that, so I went back to my station. We landed the plane and the captain came to me and said can I ask you a question? I said yes. Why did you come up in the cockpit? I said sir, I have no idea. He said I’m sure glad you did. I said sure, I’m up here too!”
Not long after that, Al came down with a near fatal case of Malaria. He had what you might call an out of body experience.
“I’m floating over this beautiful garden, soft music. I thought I died. If this his heaven, this is beautiful. Just then I heard the doctor say I think we lost him. I said I’m still here. He said take the ice off of him. They did. That’s where I lost my hair. The fever, I had a head of curly hair…had,” Masood said.
But he kept his sense of humor. He returned to the area and after school, purchased a funeral home in Saxton, Bedford County. He raised 3 children and took pride in taking care of the community.
Now he’s retired and living with his wife Nancy in Homewood in Martinsburg who he’s thrilled to say is the best cook in the area.
His military service was a proud part of his life.
Masood says, “I really enjoyed that. It’s interesting how things happen in your lifetime.”