Plaque bearing former Merchant Marine to be placed on Seaman's Memorial

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Tuesday's Ocean Springs Board of Aldermen meeting was a good one for Joe May. He asked city leaders to approve putting a plaque up at the Seaman's Memorial in honor of his father Duncan May.

Once he explained his father's tenure as a Merchant Marine, the city approved his request. Though Joe's father has passed away, WLOX got a brief history lesson about his father's work aboard ships.

Meet the late, Duncan May, a former ship master in the Merchant Marine. His name will soon join several others at the Seaman's memorial in Ocean Springs.

Though his recognition for operating ships during World War II comes two decades after his death, his son says, it's never too late.

"Well he started out as an ordinary seaman. In that case they did a lot of cleaning, painting, store a labor type work," said Duncan May's son Joe May.

Through the years, Duncan became an expert in navigation and climbed the ranks becoming a ship master. He was also commissioned into the Navy, but never called into active duty.

"He was awarded by Coast Guard, license to master any ship, any horse power, and any ocean. Which is indeed an accomplishment, that's achieved by few," said May.

Log books record many of the ships Duncan sailed including Steam Ship Warrior, a ship that sank after being hit by torpedoes in the Caribbean.

"The ship heeled in the direction of his life boat so it was able to get away. The others would not fall free. So he and four others managed to launch the boat. Get into it and subsequently rescue 29 of their fellow sailors," May said.

It was a job that had him traveling all over the world collecting numerous honors for his work, but would also keep him away from his family. Duncan retired from the sea in 1947 to spend more time with his wife Vivian and their three sons.

Duncan served on around 40 ships. Joe said he has being working to get his father on that memorial for almost a year.

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