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Major (DE-796)

(DE‑796: dp. 1,400; l. 306'; b. 36'10"; dr. 9'5"; s. 24 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 4 1.1", 8 20mm., 8 dcp.; I1 dcp. (h.h.); 2 dct., 3 21" tt.; cl. Buckley)

Charles Nance Major, born 24 February 1915 in Richmond, Va., enlisted in the Naval Reserve 1 August 1940. Following training in Arkansas and in Midshipman's School at Chicago, he was commissioned ensign 14 March 1941. He served in Leary from April until December when he reported to Norfolk for duty in the 5th Naval District. On 9 February 1942 he reported to the Armed Guard Center at New York City for duty in SS R. P. Resor, a tanker owned by Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey. The tanker loaded a cargo of bulk crude oil at Houston, Tex.; and, while steaming for Fall River, Mass., she was torpedoed off Manasquan, N.J., by U‑578 late 26 February. The German torpedo exploded against the tanker's portside. Explosions and raging fires engulfed R. P. Resor from her bridge aft, and she burned out of control before sinking 2 days later. All but two of the merchant crew and armed guard, including Ensign Major, died in the attack.

Major (DE‑796) was laid down by Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex., 16 August 1943; launched 23 October 1943; sponsored by Ens. Margaret Roper Major, Ensign Major's widow; and commissioned at Orange, Tex., 12 February 1944, Lt. Comdr. O. W. Goepner in command.

Following shakedown off Bermuda, Major served in the Caribbean Sea frontier and escorted convoys between Cuba and Trinidad until arriving Boston, Mass., 11 June. She underwent training out of Casco Bay, Maine, with ships of Escort Division 56 before arriving Yorktown, Va., 2 July for convoy escort duty. On 4 July she sailed as part of TF 61 and escorted UGS‑47, a 68‑ship convoy, to Bizerte, Tunisia, where she arrived 23 July. Between 30 July and 18 August she escorted a westbound convoy back to the United States.

Major again sailed with TF 61 as convoy escort 12 September, but on the 25th she left UGS‑54 and steamed to Plymouth, England, arriving 29 September. There she met a convoy of 18 LSTs and 20 LCIs, and between 5 and 24 October she sailed as escort to Charleston, S.C. During the next 2 months Major made another convoy run to north Africa and back; and, after returning to Boston 29 December, she served as submarine training target ship out of New London. Thence she sailed 21 February 1945 for duty in the Pacific.

Arriving Manus, Admiralties, 1 April, Major escorted a convoy from Hollandia, New Guinea, to Leyte Gulf, Philippines, where she reported for duty with the Philippine Sea frontier. During the remainder of the war she operated out of Leyte Gulf, patrolling for enemy submarines, providing passenger and mail service to islands in the southern Philippines, and conducting periodic convoy escort duty, including a run to New Guinea and back. Late in July she reached Okinawa as escort for an LST convoy, thence she departed 1 August guarding LSTs bound for Leyte. Three days later, as Earl V. Johnson (DE-702) dueled with a Japanese submarine, Major protected the convoy, which arrived at Leyte Gulf 7 August.

Following the cessation of hostilities 15 August, Major steamed to Manila 18 August and escorted LSTs to Japan. She anchored near mighty Missouri (BB‑63) in Tokyo Bay 1 September and the following day witnessed the Japanese surrender on board the giant battleship. After returning to the Philippines later that month, she operated out of Leyte. Late in 1945 she steamed to the west coast. Major decommissioned at Long Beach 13 March 1948 and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet. At present she is berthed with the Pacific Inactive Fleet at Stockton, Calif.

Published: Thu Apr 28 02:48:42 EDT 2016