He was born January 12, 1891 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In 1908, he was accepted into the U. S. Naval Academy, graduating in 1912. Charles P. Mason was officially an Annapolis Midshipman.
World War 1, known as “The Great War,” broke out in 1914. However, President Wilson declared the United States would remain neutral. But in 1915, American sympathies began to change when 128 Americans died from a German U Boat attack that sunk the British ocean liner Lusitania. Mason recognized that war was inevitable and naval aviation would play a part. He volunteered for the infant naval aviation program and was transferred to Pensacola in 1916. He became Naval Aviator #52 the following year. Shortly afterward, when it looked like Germany would team up with the United States’ neighbor, Mexico, The U. S. entered the conflict, in 1917. It was then that Chalres met and married Ralphine Fisher. He served on the armistice commission in Germany before commanding the first seaplane squadron in World War I.
In 1923, the couple happily returned to Pensacola when he was assigned as Superintendent of Training Flight Schools. Later, he served on the first aircraft carrier in history—the U. S. S. Langley. It was there that he made the first night takeoff and the first catapult launching. Mason was there when WWII began—Pearl Harbor. As a captain in 1942, he took command of the U. S. S. Hornet. At the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, the Hornet was sunk—he was the last man to abandon ship. A hero in that battle, he was promoted to Rear Admiral.
After 38 years in the U. S. Navy, he retired in 1946. It was then that Rear Admiral Charles P. Mason and his wife came home to Pensacola forever. Admiral Mason was chosen Mayor in 1947 and served until 1957, when the Florida legislature gave him the title of Honorary Mayor for Life.
He died in 1971 at the age of 80 and is buried in St. John’s Cemetery. The Admiral Mason Park, located at the corner of 9th Avenue and Bayfront Parkway, was named in his honor.
In the phots: On February 13, 1953, officers of the police department stand for their annual inspection by the old admiral – Mayor C. P. Mason – who felt an annual inspection was good for discipline and morale.
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