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Navsource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive

Ship's patch courtesy
of Mike Smolinski

USS Major (DE 796)

Flag Hoist / Radio Call Sign:
N - Z - D - J
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row: American Campaign Medal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
Second Row: European-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal - World War II Victory Medal - Philippine Liberation Ribbon

Class: Buckley
Type: TE (turbine-electric drive, 3" guns)
Displacement: 1400 tons (light), 1740 tons (full)
Length: 300' (wl), 306' (oa)
Beam: 36' 9" (extreme)
Draft: 10' 6" (draft limit)
Propulsion: 2 "D" Express boilers, G.E. turbines with electric drive, 12000 shp, 2 screws
Speed: 24 kts
Range: 6,000 nm @ 12 knots
Armament: 3 x 3"/50 Mk22 (1x3), 1 twin 40mm Mk1 AA, 8 x 20mm Mk 4 AA, 3 x 21" Mk15 TT (3x1), 1 Hedgehog Projector Mk10 (144 rounds), 8 Mk6 depth charge projectors, 2 Mk9 depth charge tracks
Complement: 15 / 198
Major (DE 796) Building and Operational Data:
  • 16 August 1943: Keel laid by the Consolidated Steel Corp., Ltd., Orange, Tex.
  • 23 October 1943: Launched and christened, sponsored by Ens. Margaret Roper Major, Ensign Major’s widow
  • 12 February 1944: Commissioned at the City Docks, Orange, Tex., Lcdr. O. W. Goepner in command
  • 13 March 1948: Decommissioned at Long Beach, Cal. after 4 years and 1 month of service; berthed with the Pacific Reserve Fleet at Stockton, Cal.
  • 01 December 1972: Struck from the NVR
  • 27 November 1973: Sold for scrapping
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    50k Charles Nance Major, the son of William and Gertrude (Nance) Major, was born on 24 February 1915 in Richmond, Va. He was a graduate of John Marshall High School and the University of Richmond where he earned his B.S. in business administration. Before entering midshipman’s training school at Northwestern University, he was employed by the Retail Credit Company.

    He enlisted in the Naval Reserve on 01 August 1940. Following training in USS Arkansas (BB 33) and in Midshipman's School at Chicago, he was commissioned ensign on 14 March 1941. He served in USS Leary (DD 158) from April until December when he reported to Norfolk for duty in the 5th Naval District. On 09 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., blacked out on a zigzag course at 12.5 knots, she was torpedoed off Manasquan, N.J., by U‑578 late on 26 February. The torpedo struck on the port side just forward of amidships and blew oil over the entire length of the ship and into the water. The oil ignited and flames rapidly spread 500 feet around the tanker as the eight officers, 33 crewmen and nine armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in gun) tried to abandon ship. One boat with about 30 occupants was launched successfully but was soon engulfed in flames, other men perished as they tried to swim through the oil. The burning tanker stayed afloat until the tug USS USS Sagamore (AT 20) attempted to salvage her. She capsized after the stern grounded in 122 feet of water and sank almost 48 hours after the torpedo hit about 31 miles east of Barnegat, New Jersey. All but two of the merchant crew and armed guard, including Ensign Major, died in the attack. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal. His body was never recovered and he is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing on the East Coast Memorial, Manhattan, New York.

    USS Major (DE 796) (1944-1948) was the first ship to be named in his honor.

    (Photo courtesy of the Virginia War Memorial Foundation)
    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Navsource DE / FF / LCS
    Archive Manager
    161k undated wartime image Jerry Church
    148k USS Major (DE 796) cutting water very early in the morning in the San Francisco Bay during WWII.

    (Photo courtesy of World War II Photography)
    Bill Gonyo
    Downey, Cal.

    Assoc. Researcher
    436k undated: USS Major (DE 796).

    (U.S. Navy photo #L45-173.01.02 from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Navsource DE/FF/LCS
    Archive Manager
    249k undated postwar image: San Francisco, Cal. - USS Major (DE 796) as she prepares to pass under the Golden Gate Bridge. Darryl Baker
    PNCM, USNR (ret.)

    Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum

    Major History
    View the USS Major (DE 796) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.
    View the official War History of USS Major as submitted by the ship at war's end.

    Major's Commanding Officers
    Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves
    Dates of Command Commanding Officers
    1.) 12 Feb. 1944 - May 1945Lcdr. Oscar William Goepner (Comm. CO) (Highland Park, Ill.)
    2.) 12 Feb. 1944 - May 1945Lcdr. Augustus Knight Jr.
    3.) 1947Lcdr. Edward Matthews Higgins Jr. (Boston, Mass.)

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information

    Note About Contacts

    Contact information is compiled from various sources over a period of time and may, or may not, be correct. Every effort has
    been made to list the newest contact. However, our entry is only as good as the latest information that's been sent to us. We list
    only a contact for the ship if one has been sent to us. We do NOT have crew lists, rosters, or deck logs available. Please see the
    Frequently Asked Questions section on NavSource's Main Page for that information.

    Additional Resources

    Tin Can Sailors
    The U.S. Navy Memorial
    The Destroyer Escort Historical Museum
    The Destroyer History Foundation
    To The DE, FF, LCS Photo Index Page
    Back To The Main Photo Index

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    This Page Created And Maintained By Mike Smolinski
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    by Paul R. Yarnall, All Rights Reserved.
    Page Last Updated: 28 August 2023