EUGENE S. KARPE, CAPT, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Eugene Karpe '26

Date of birth: August 21, 1904

Date of death: February 23, 1950

Age: 45

Lucky Bag

From the 1926 Lucky Bag:

Loss

1926 Karpe 1.jpg

Eugene died on February 23, 1950 when he fell — or was pushed — from a train south of Salzburg, Austria. He was en route to the United States for reassignment after serving as a naval attaché in Rumania.

The book "Dangerous Games: Faces, Incidents, and Casualties of the Cold War", by Scott Baron and James Wilse, Jr., has several pages about the intrigue surrounding Eugene's loss. Contemporaneous newspaper reports are available at Arlington National Cemetery.net.

He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Remembrance

Robert Vogeler was close friends with Eugene; Getty Images has a picture of them together. Robert was once a Naval Academy midshipman (Class of 1933), though he resigned in December 1931. He and Eugene met in March 1947, after Eugene had been stationed in Europe.

From Dangerous Games:

The rumor that Karpe was drunk and had fallen out of his compartment as the Arlberg Express went through the tunnel was a libel. He was not drinking at the time, because of gout, and he was completely sober in the dining car before his death. The CIC [Counter-Intelligence Corps, Vienna] experimented with sandbags of the same weight as Karpe (200 pounds) and thus confirmed, beyond any possibility of doubt, that he had been thrown from his compartment. His body caromed off the side of the tunnel and fell beneath the wheels of the train. In order to achieve the same result with a sandbag, it was necessary for two CIC agents to hurl it out of a similar compartment with all the force at their command.

Fish Karpe was a fun-loving bachelor who had enjoyed considerable success as a ladies' man. He had often traveled between Bucharest and Vienna on the Orient section of the Arlberg Express and he told Lucile Vogeler that on several trips he had met the same Hungarian blonde. He had met her again on his last trip to Vienna, and as usual she was on her way to Paris. Fish had made a date to meet her there on his way through to Washington. It was impossible, given the AVH's [Hungarian State Defense Authority] passport regulations, for anyone, even an attractive blonde, to travel repeatedly between Paris and Budapest except on official business. Fish had evidently been hoping to learn what her official business was.

Wartime Service

Eugene had command of USS Whipple (DD 217) at the beginning of the war; Whipple was based in Manila.

Legion of Merit

From Hall of Valor:

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Captain Eugene S. Karpe, United States Navy, was awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Commanding Officer of a United States Navy Destroyer in the Pacific Ocean Area during World War II.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 364 (June 1947)
Service: Navy
Rank: Captain


Class of 1926

Eugene is one of 36 members of the Class of 1926 in Memorial Hall.