VICE ADMIRAL CHARLES PERRY MASON
AVIATOR No. 52, USN • NAVY CROSS
Navy Cross Awarded for actions during World War II
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Rear Admiral Charles Perry Mason, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of this profession as Commanding Officer of the Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. HORNET (CV-8), during the engagement with enemy Japanese forces north of the Santa Cruz Islands on 26 October 1942. Throughout the battle, while the HORNET was being subjected to violent attacks by overwhelming numbers of Japanese fighters, dive and torpedo bombers, Rear Admiral Mason directed the fighting of his ship with cool and aggressive determination. The air forces under his command succeeded in severely damaging and possibly sinking a large number of enemy warships, including an aircraft carrier, three heavy cruisers, and one light cruiser. In addition to this damage to enemy surface vessels, a total of 70 Japanese planes was destroyed, the guns of the HORNET accounting for 26 of them. Rear Admiral Mason's inspiring leadership and the valiant devotion to duty of his command contributed in large measure to the outstanding success of these vital missions and reflect great credit upon the United States Naval Service.
General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 314 (May 1943)
Action Date: October 26, 1942
Rank: Rear Admiral
Company: Commanding Officer
Division: U.S.S. Hornet (CV-8)
USS Hornet took part in Battle of Midway. USS Hornet (Capt. C.P. Mason) was heavily damaged in the battle of Santa Cruz on 26 October 1942. The abandoned ship, ablaze from stem to stern, refused to accept her intended fate from friends. She still floated after receiving nine torpedoes and more than 400 rounds of 5-inch shellfire from destroyers USS Mustin (Lt.Cdr. W.F. Peterson) and USS Anderson (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Guthrie). Japanese destroyers hastened the inevitable by firing four 24-inch torpedoes at her blazing hull. At 0135, 27 October 1942 she finally went down. in position 08º38'S, 166º43'E.
Naval Aviation Chronology 1917-1919
JUNE 13, 1918
The first American-built aircraft to be assembled in France, an HS-1, made its first flight at Pauillac, piloted by Lieutenant C. P. Mason, USN, with Commander J. B. Patton, USN, and Lieutenant W. B. Jameson, USNRF, as passengers
Naval Aviation Chronology 1920-1929
DECEMBER 3, 1923
The establishment of a special service squadron, for the purpose of developing long-distance scouting planes, was approved by the Chief of Naval Operations. The squadron, designated VS Squadron 3, was initially based at NAS Anacostia and commanded by Lieutenant Commander C. P. Mason
Naval Chronology Of WWII, 1943 February 15, 1943
Joint air command designated Aircraft, Solomon Islands (Rear Adm. C. P. Mason) is established with headquarters at Guadalcanal.
While Mason was fighting the Pacific War, his only son was killed in an airplane crash in Nevada. Five years later, his son's young widow was killed in a car crash. The admiral and his wife were to raise their grandson C. P. Mason III. His son and grandson followed him by graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy. Thus, three generations of Charles Masons were academy graduates.
Charles P. Mason, Vice Admiral, USN (1891-1971) Naval aviator Mason led city as mayor through a major period of Pensacola’s growth
One of the earliest Naval aviators to earn his wings in Pensacola returned after his retirement to help lead the city during a major growth period.Vice Admiral Charles P. Mason began his second career when he became Pensacola’s mayor in 1947, a job he held for 10 years. At first he was a mayor selected from outside the council, but wanting to have a real say in government, Mason ran for the City Council and was elected. He resigned in 1957 because of his failing eyesight. His sight repaired, he was again appointed mayor in 1963 and held the job for two more years.
Mason was born on January 12, 1891, in Harrisburg, PA, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1912. He came to Pensacola and entered flight training in May 1916, graduating in 1917 as Naval aviator No. 52.
As was often the case when new Naval aviators graduated and left Pensacola, along with their new gold wings was a new wife. Young Mason had married Pensacolian Ralphine Fisher, the daughter of Will Fisher Jr. By this time, the United States was in World War I and Mason was ordered to Europe. When he returned to Pensacola it was to meet his new son, Charles Jr.
At the end of World War I, America placed an emphasis on the airplane, believing that future wars would be fought in the air. With Mason’s knowledge of aviation, he was given assignments to several stations, including Pensacola in 1920-21. On this tour of duty, he was superintendent of aviation training. At one time he was in charge of the first aircraft carrier, the old USS Langley. He conducted a number of experiments that led to changes in the design of carriers.
In 1940, Mason was ordered to Jacksonville, where he became the first commanding officer of the new Jacksonville Naval Air Station. He was there when Pearl Harbor was attacked in December 1941. He then took over the helm of the USS Hornet, which was destroyed in the Battle of Santa Cruz. “For his heroic defense of the ship he was promoted to rear admiral,” according to one report. He received the Navy Cross for this event.
While Mason was fighting the Pacific War, his only son was killed in an airplane crash in Nevada. Five years later, his son’s young widow was killed in a car crash. The admiral and his wife were to raise their grandson C. P. Mason III. His son and grandson followed him by graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy. Thus, three generations of Charles Masons were academy graduates.
In April 1946, the Admiral requested retirement after 38 years of active duty. He settled first in Jacksonville and then returned to his wife’s hometown. He had always maintained his voting residence in Pensacola, so when the City Council failed to agree on a mayoral candidate, they asked Mason if he would fill the position.
It was under Mason that Oliver J. Semmes Jr., the city engineer, became city manager. Much growth took place with Mason and Semmes running the government. The gas company was bought from Gulf Power Co. and areas outside the city were annexed, including East Pensacola Heights. The city increased size from less than 10 square miles to more than 17 square miles. A new public library was built and the library moved from Old Christ Church. Plans for a municipal auditorium were completed and an old Frisco engine was given to the city and placed in the Garden Street plaza. Mason was an avid baseball fan and the baseball park, now Veterans Park, was named Admiral Mason Park.
In addition to the Navy Cross, Mason also received the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star and honors from the governments of Mexico, Chile, Peru and Brazil. He was a Rotarian, a Mason and a member of the Boy Scouts of America. A number of admirals were honorary pallbearers for his Christ Episcopal Church funeral. Admiral Mason died August 13, 1971 and was buried at St. John’s Cemetery 5 North, Section 67.