Horace S. Carswell, Jr. : biography
Horace Seaver "Stump" Carswell, Jr. (July 18, 1916 – October 26, 1944) was a Medal of Honor recipient as a Major in the United States Army Air Corps who served in World War II. He is the namesake of Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth, Texas.
He was flying a B-24 Liberator on the night of October 26, 1944, on a single-aircraft night mission against a Japanese convoy in the South China Sea. He elected to make a second low-level run over a thoroughly alerted convoy and scored two direct hits on a large tanker. His co-pilot was wounded, and his aircraft had two engines knocked out, a third damaged, the hydraulic system damaged, and a fuel tank punctured. He managed to gain enough altitude to reach land, where he ordered the crew to bail out. Eight did, but the bombardier's parachute was too badly damaged to use. Instead of bailing out, Carswell stayed with the bombardier and the wounded co-pilot, and attempted a crash landing. The badly damaged aircraft crashed against a mountain, and all three aboard were killed.
Carswell was buried at a Catholic mission in Tungchen, China. He was survived by his wife and son. Carswell Memorial Park – where his remains now rest – in Oakwood Cemetery, Fort Worth is named in his honor.
Horace attended North Side High School, where he played football, with his high school highlight being the winning touchdown he scored on Armistice Day in a game against the Wichita Falls team in 1933. After graduation from North Side, Horace attended college at Texas A&M University for a year as a member of the class of 1938, and then began attending Texas Christian University (since four of his uncles were Methodist preachers) where he graduated in August 1939 with a bachelors degree in physical education.
On a double date while still at TCU, Horace met a co-ed featured in one of the yearbook's beauty pages, by the name of Virginia Ede. Virginia was from a ranching family from the west Texas town of San Angelo.
After the German invasion of Poland, he decided to join the United States Army Air Forces. He was appointed a flying cadet in Dallas, Texas on March 26, 1940, and trained at Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Randolph and Kelly Fields, Texas, getting his commission and wings toward the end of 1940. He instructed at Randolph and Goodfellow Fields in Texas, with promotion in February 1942, to first lieutenant.
He attended the Army Air Force Combat Crew School at Hendricks Field, Florida. He was an instructor and flight commander with bomb squadrons at Davis Monthan Field, Arizona; Biggs Field, Texas. In December 1942 he was promoted to Captain.
In January 1943, he was assigned to the 356th Bomb Squadron at Clovis Army Air Field, New Mexico, where he was promoted to Major (United States) in April. The next month he was transferred to Headquarters 302nd Bombardment Group. During this period Virginia gave birth to their only child, Robert Ede Carswell, at Clovis Army Air Field in September 1943.
Shortly thereafter he was transferred to Langley Field, Virginia, in operations and group command assignments. Major Carswell went to the Pacific Theater of Operations in April 1944, as pilot and operations officer of the 374th Bombardment Squadron in the 308th Bombardment Group of the 14th Air Force.
He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart. These medals were presented to his wife, Virginia, on December 20, 1944, and July 21, 1945. Major Carswell also received the Medal of Honor posthumously on February 4, 1946.
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: Major, 308th Bombardment Group, U.S. Army Air Corps. Place and date: Over South China Sea, October 26, 1944. Entered service at: San Angelo, Tex. Birth: Fort Worth, Tex. G.O. No.: 14, February 4, 1946.
He piloted a B-24 bomber in a one-plane strike against a Japanese convoy in the South China Sea on the night of 26 October 1944. Taking the enemy force of 12 ships escorted by at least 2 destroyers by surprise, he made 1 bombing run at 600 feet, scoring a near miss on 1 warship and escaping without drawing fire. He circled. and fully realizing that the convoy was thoroughly alerted and would meet his next attack with a barrage of antiaircraft fire, began a second low-level run which culminated in 2 direct hits on a large tanker. A hail of steel from Japanese guns, riddled the bomber, knocking out 2 engines, damaging a third, crippling the hydraulic system, puncturing 1 gasoline tank, ripping uncounted holes in the aircraft, and wounding the copilot; but by magnificent display of flying skill, Maj. Carswell controlled the plane's plunge toward the sea and carefully forced it into a halting climb in the direction of the China shore. On reaching land, where it would have been possible to abandon the staggering bomber, one of the crew discovered that his parachute had been ripped by flak and rendered useless; the pilot, hoping to cross mountainous terrain and reach a base, continued onward until the third engine failed. He ordered the crew to bail out while he struggled to maintain altitude and, refusing to save himself, chose to remain with his comrade and attempt a crash landing. He died when the airplane struck a mountainside and burned. With consummate gallantry and intrepidity, Maj. Carswell gave his life in a supreme effort to save all members of his crew. His sacrifice, far beyond that required of him, was in keeping with the traditional bravery of America's war heroes.
On February 27, 1948, Fort Worth Army Airfield was renamed Carswell Air Force Base in his honor. There are also Carswell Avenues at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska and Lackland Air Force Base, Texas named in his honor. A frame containing an artist's rendition, a specimen Medal of Honor and the citation is on display at Texas A&M University in the Memorial Student Center. A large bronze bas relief plaque hangs in the Sanders Corps of Cadets Center on the campus of Texas A&M University.
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