North High School Wall of Honor
Charles O'Connor, Jr.
Class of January, 1940
Charles O'Connor, Jr./high school graduation
Research done by Claradell Shedd, Class of 1953.
Charles O'Connor, Jr.
Charles was a member of North High's class of January, 1940. His next of kin was Mr. Charles O'Connor, 3915 Cambridge Street, Des Moines, IA. During the service, his next of kin was his mother, Mrs. Juanita Cage O'Connor, 2309 North Union Street, Des Moines, IA. Charles's service number was 314164.
Charles O'Connor, Jr.
Year   Rank/Rating   Status
May, 1937-
x Employment x Reed's Ice Cream Company. Retail service to customers. Managed 20-25 teenage curb service youths.
Jan., 1940 x Graduated x Graduated from North High, Des Moines, IA
July, 1940-
x Employment x F.W. Fitch Company. Stock hand, receiving clerk, order clerk
1940-August, 1943  
  Graduated from Drake University; Des Moines, IA; BCS degree in Accounting, Certified CPA
December, 1942-
x Employment x Lybrand, Ross Brothers and Montgomery, CPA firm in Rockford, Illinois.
February, 1943-
x Employment x CPA firm of Allen and Company. Worked with firm every afternoon and Saturday while still in college. Employment was in connection with Drake University's Accounting Majors' Apprenticeship Course.
September 30, 1943 x US Navy x Enlisted in the Navy in Des Moines.
1943-1944 x US Navy Reserve/
Midshipmen's School
x Basic Training; (the fourth class to be trained at:)
*Notre Dame United States Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School; January 20, 1944. 3rd Battalion, 10th Company. At the time of graduation, Charles's residence was listed as 2309 North Union Street, Des Moines, IA.
January 20, 1944 x US Navy/Ensign x Commissioned as Ensign after graduation from the Notre Dame United States Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School
January 11, 1944 x US Navy/Ensign x Sent to Amphibious Training Base, Little Creek, VA, Atlantic Fleet, for amphibious training. Reported in January 26, 1944.
June 14, 1944
until April 30, 1946
x US Navy/Ensign x *USS Chara (AKA-58) Landings at Leyte, Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines, and the assault and occupation of Okinawa. Control Officer.
June 7, 1946 x Discharged/Lt. x Ninth Naval District; Great Lakes, IL
December 26, 1946-
February 17, 1951
x Employment x Bankers Life Company, Des Moines, IA. Associate, Life Office Management Association
1946-1958 x Employment x CPA firm of Allen and Company. Then Bankers Life Company where he headed the Investment Account Group as Accounting Supervisor. (1946-1958)
December 29, 1955 x US Naval Reserve/
x Resigned from the US Naval Reserve
1958-1964 x Employment x City of Des Moines. First as Administrative Assistant to the City Planning Director and then as Administrative Assistant to the City Manager. Assistant City Manager.
1964-1985 x Employment x Appointed City Finance Director in 1964, in which capacity he served for twenty years.
1985 x Retired x In Des Moines, IA. Volunteering at his church, setting up and running a computerized accounting system for his church.
September,1988 x Schooling x Sacred Heart School of Theology, Hales Corners, WI to begin studies to become a Roman Catholic priest. When he began his studies for the priesthood, Charles said, "What I have done has been satisfying, but not fully satisfying. I wanted to do more, something with a greater purpose."
July 4, 2010 x Deceased x Deceased; 07/04/10 in Des Moines, IA. Charles never married.
*Some ships which participated at Luzon, Lingayen Gulf, and Okinawa are: USS Cambria (APA-36), Adair (APA-91), Shadwell (LSD-15), USS DePage (APA-41), Elmore APA-42, USS Allen M. Sumner (DD-692). Was Charles on any one of these ships as well?
ship photos caption  
3rd Battalion, 10th Company Midshipmen's School Crest
Notre Dame Midshipmen's School; January, 1944 Crest of ND Midshipmen's School
*United States Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School at Notre Dame
EVANSTON, Ill. --- In the 1940s, Northwestern University was home to more than 24,000 students who perhaps never cheered on the Wildcats at a football game, never experienced a late night at University Library and were not familiar with The Rock.

In fact, some never set foot in Evanston. Yet these students were part of one of the most historic programs ever implemented at this university: the V-7 United States Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School.

In the summer of 1940, with war raging in Europe and the likelihood of American involvement apparent, then-university president Franklyn Bliss Snyder made a commitment to national defense by accommodating a Naval training unit on the Chicago campus in newly built Abbott Hall. Through a contract with the federal government, Northwestern, along with Columbia University and Notre Dame, became one of the three schools to support a Midshipmen's School to train and produce Naval officers.

By September of that same year, all men aged 21 to 36 were required to register with local draft boards. For men already enrolled or planning on attending college, the V-12 Navy College Training Program, beginning in 1943, was an option that allowed them to stay in school and still participate in military service. On 131 campuses across the nation, including Northwestern's campus in Evanston, more than 125,000 men enlisted in this program with about 60,000 eventually becoming commissioned Navy and Marine Corps officers.

Most candidates completed officer training through a four-month course at one of the nation's three Midshipmen's Schools. By the time the war ended in 1945, nearly 25,000 men from around the country received training on Northwestern's Chicago campus.
Philippines Map/1944 Charles O'Connor/civilian
Philippines Charles O'Connor, Civilian
Encounter in Lingayen Gulf Okinawa Deployment
Lingayen Gulf Okinawa Deployment
USS Chara (AKA-58)
USS Chara Ship Patch USS Chara (AKA-58)
USS Chara (AKA-58) Awards, Citations, and Campaign Ribbons
USS Chara (AKA-58) Awards, Citations, Campaign Ribbons
Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - Combat Action Ribbon (8 Jan 45) - Navy Unit Commendation - American Campaign Medal
Second Row - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (4) - World War II Victory Medal - Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia clasp)
Third Row - National Defense Service Medal (2) - Korean Service Medal (7) - Vietnam Service Medal (8)
Fourth Row - United Nations Service Medal - Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal - Republic of Korea War Service Medal (retroactive)
Campaign and Dates Campaign and Dates
Leyte operation
Leyte landings, 20 October 1944
Manila Bay-Bicol operations
Zambales - San Antonio, 26 January 1945
Luzon operation Lingayen Gulf landings, 9 and 10 January 1944 Okinawa Gunto operation
Assault and capture of Okinawa Gunto, 1 to 6 April 1945

USS Chara (AKA-58)
USS Chara (AKA-58) was an Andromeda-class attack cargo ship named after a star in the constellation Canes Venatici. She was later converted to an ammunition ship and redesignated (AE-31).

Chara (AKA-58) was launched on 15 March 1944 by Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Kearny, New Jersey, under a Maritime Commission contract, sponsored by Mrs. E. P. McHugh, acquired by the Navy on 16 March 1944, and commissioned on 14 June 1944, Commander C. B. Hamblett, USNR, in command.

Chara cleared Norfolk 22 July 1944 for Pearl Harbor, arriving on 10 August for training. Her initial combat action came on 20 October when she hove to in Leyte Gulf, with the Southern Attack Force, and swiftly landed troops and cargo in the momentous assault that was the first step in the liberation of the Philippines. Chara withdrew on 24 October, while the decisive naval Battle of Leyte Gulf raged in the area. She returned to New Guinea to reload essential supplies which she delivered to support the continuing land Battle of Leyte on 18 November.

After rehearsal landings in New Guinea, and staging at Manus, Chara cleared on 31 December 1944 for the assault on Lingayen. As TF 97 penetrated Philippine waters, on 8 January 1945, a Japanese kamikaze attack was hurled at them and succeeded in damaging one escort carrier of the group. On board Chara, three men were wounded, one fatally, as a result of the heavy anti-aircraft fire thrown up by the task force. The assaults were made on 9 January and 10 January, Chara's men landing their troops and cargo successfully despite heavy surf conditions and a beach so difficult that the Japanese never anticipated an amphibious assault in the location. Chara remained in the Leyte area, participating in the landings on San Antonio on 26 January, until 26 March, when she steamed from San Pedro Bay combat-loaded for the beaches of Okinawa.

Once again at Okinawa, her men worked skillfully in an amphibious assault, as Chara landed troops and heavy equipment on 1 April 1945. She remained off Okinawa in this invasion, famous for the Japanese desperation kamikaze attacks, to unload reinforcements and additional equipment until 6 April. After overhaul in the States and a return to Okinawa with cargo on 5 July, Chara returned to San Francisco where she loaded supplies for the Philippines, calling en route for additional supplies at Pearl Harbor, thus beginning a period of cargo operations in the Philippines and to Japan in support of the occupation.

She returned to the States in December 1945, then continued to support forces in the Far East until 1950, carrying men and cargo for the Naval Transportation Service, and after 1 October 1949, for the Military Sea Transportation Service.

US Navy seal

Navy Officer Cap Device

Charles O'Connor, Jr.
3rd Battalion, 10th Company
US Navy Fleet
US Navy

Charles O'Connor, Jr.

US Navy Insignia

Ensign Sleeve Stripe/Bar

Asiatic-Pacific Area Service Medal w/three bronze stars;
(Three Bronze Stars for Leyte, Lingayen Gulf, and Okinawa)
WWII Victory; American Campaign; Philippine Liberation Campaign
(1) The World War II Army Enlistment Records contain information on more than nine million indivdual enlistments. These records can be found online at

(2) The comprehensive list of names from North High's 1893-2021 graduation classes are from Claradell Shedd's North Des Moines High School website. The names of North High School graduates can be found online at: Charles O'Connor's 1940 class page is:
Information given to me in conversation with Charles O'Connor on 07/01/10. Died 07/04/10.
Music: "Anchors Aweigh"
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