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First Name: Charles

Last Name: Parsons

Birthplace: Doe Run, St. Francis, MO, US

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)

Rating: Seaman 1st Class

Home of Record: MO
Middle Name: Earl

Date of Birth: 18 December 1917

Date of Death: 15 December 1945 (Presumed)

MIA Date: 01 March 1942

Rank or Rate: Seaman

Years Served: 1940-1945

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Charlie was the fifth child of ten children born to Virgil Lee and Maggie Gertrude Alexander Parsons who were married on 20 Nov 1907 in Bollinger County, MO. Their nine other children were Helen Taft, Henry Theodore, John Carl, Elsie Minta Opal, June H., Loys Aloysius, Virgil Lee Jr., Mary Louise and Robert Parsons.

Charles Earl "Charlie" "Smokie" Parsons enlisted in the US Navy (NSN:337-31-37) as an Apprentice Seaman (AS) on 4 Jun 1940 in St. Louis, MO. He was sent to basic training at the Naval Training Station (NTS), Great Lakes, IL. After he completed basic training and a brief leave period, he reported for duty on board the heavy cruiser, USS Houston (CA-30) on 13 Sep 1940. For about two months in 1940, Charles and his brother Loys who had reported on board on 12 July 1940, were serving together on the Houston until Loys transferred on 28 Nov 1940. AS Parsons advanced in rate on 4 Oct 1940 to Seaman Second Class (S2/c). On 01 Feb 1942, he advanced in rate to Seaman First Class (S1/c).

In the predawn hours of 8 Dec 1941 (7 Dec east of the International Date Line), Houston received a message indicating that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor and hostilities with Japan had commenced. Later that day, Japanese attack aircraft struck the Philippines. However, Admiral Hart's naval forces previously dispersed and were at sea enroute to Surabaya, Java. Only US Army Air Forces under the command of General Douglas MacArthur were caught completely by surprise and were destroyed on the ground.

Houston arrived at Surabaya on 17 Dec. After several days inport Surabaya where she joined the American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) naval force, Houston departed for Darwin, Australia on 20 Dec. She arrived there on 28 Dec 1941. Houston was underway again providing escort services on 12 Jan 1942. On 01 Feb 1942, S2c Parsons was promoted to S1c.

Houston did not see combat action until 4 Feb in the Battle of Makassar Strait when Japanese land based attack aircraft began bombing the ABDA force. For the next several weeks, Houston was engaged in frequent combat.

On 27 Feb 1942, the Battle of the Java Sea began in which Houston was a participant. Late in the evening of the 28th, Houston and the Australian Navy light cruiser Perth engaged a Japanese force in what became known as the Battle of Sunda Strait. Houston and Perth engaged three Japanese cruisers and nine Japanese destroyers. In the maelstrom that followed into the early morning hours of 01 Mar, Houston and Perth sunk a number of Japanese ships, but were themselves sunk by torpedoes and gunfire from Japanese heavy cruisers Mogami and Mikuma (Mikuma was sunk and the Mogami heavily damaged several months later in the Battle of Midway). Houston lost almost 700 crewmen. Many of the survivors were captured by the Japanese (this was not known for over three years.) and sent to internment or work camps. Of the 368 known Navy and Marine Corps personnel taken prisoner, 77 died in captivity.

According to the final USS Houston (CA-30) muster report for 01 Mar 1942 filed several years later, S1c Charles E Parsons was listed as missing in action on 01 Mar 1942. He was presumed dead in 15 Dec 1945. His remains were unrecoverable.

In August 1945, several Houston survivors who had been captured by the Japanese in 1942, escaped from their captors and made their way to Allied forces. Word was soon sent home that some 300 survivors from the Houston sinking were still interned and would soon be released. Of course, this raised the hopes of so many families who had accepted the presumed fate of their loved ones who had been missing for over three years. Good news for the families of the survivors, but yet again more dashed hopes and heartbreak for many others.

He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, American Defense Services Medal with one star, Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal with two battle stars, World War II Victory Medal, Navy Presidential Unit Citation with one star, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, and Philippine Defense Ribbon with one bronze star. He may also be eligible the Combat Action Ribbon (retroactive 07 Dec 1941).

His brother Loys is recorded in this database. MHOH#155834

[Bio #17 compiled by Gerry Lawton (GML470)]

Honoree ID: 155827   Created by: MHOH




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