GILBERT C. CARPENTER, LCDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Gilbert Carpenter '30

Date of birth: September 15, 1909

Date of death: May 18, 1942

Age: 32

Lucky Bag

From the 1930 Lucky Bag:


Loss

From The Daily News, Iron Mountain, Dickinson, Michigan on Monday, April 27, 1942:

Iron Mountain’s [Michigan] highest ranking naval officer, Lieutenant Commander Gilbert Crowell Carpenter, U.S. Navy. Aviation branch was stationed at a land air base at San Juan, Puerto Rico, for over 2 years. This is the same island on which his late father & Iron Mountain hero of World War I, Capt. Gilbert V. Carpenter.

Lt. Commander Carpenter’s naval career started upon his graduation from high school, with enrollment in the Annapolis officer’s training academy, graduating in 1930.

He visited his mother in April 1942, a month before his death. It was his 1st visit to Iron Mountain since 1936. His wife, Constance was with him along with their year old son, who was born in Puerto Rico.

Lieutenant Commander Gilbert was killed when the Navy plane he was piloting crashed at Norfolk, Virginia. He is buried at sea with a Memorial Marker at this cemetery.

From the Iron Mountain Press newspaper, Dickinson, Michigan on June 11, 1942:

OFFICER TELLS HOW CARPENTER LOST HIS LIFE

Although he met his death when he was pinned, under water, beneath his ship (plane), the late Lieutenant Commander Gilbert Crowell Carpenter, United States Navy & formerly of this city, "did exactly what any good pilot would have done under the circumstances," in attempting an emergency landing last May 18 at the Norfolk, Virginia air station.

Death came to the popular Iron Mountain young man shortly after he, with his wife & young son, had visited here with his mother, Mrs. Leonora Carpenter. Robert L. C. Barnard, U.S. aviation radioman 1st class, San Antonio, Texas, who was flying with LCDR Carpenter, was also killed in the crash.

"I will attempt," the officer wrote, "to describe the situation as simply as possible. LCDR Carpenter was the leading the squadron to land at the field here at Norfolk. He was the be the 1st to land. The plane was down to about 50 feet from the runway & he was almost ready to perform the actual landing.

WIND SHIFTED

"Just at this moment the control tower called him by radio saying that the wind had shifted & requested that he not land on that runway, but continue on across the field & circle, coming in on another runway.

"Carpenter increased the throttle & started to climb, to clear the obstacles on the far side of the field. For some reason, the engine did not respond properly & after a few seconds he realized that he was not getting enough power to clear the obstructions about 600 yards ahead.

"Between where he was at this point & the obstacles ahead, is an area which had recently been filled in by dredging operations & still contains a certain amount of water. The area looks perfectly hard & safe from the air.

"Therefore when LCDR Carpenter saw that he was failing to gain altitude, he nosed over & made an excellent landing.

"However due to the actual condition of the area, the wheels sank in immediately & caused the plane to rollover on its back. This resulted in LCDR Carpenter being pinned under the plane & drowning.

"LCDR Carpenter did exactly what any good pilot would have done under the circumstances. His death was caused by forces definitely beyond his control."

Career

Gilbert commissioned as an Ensign June 5, 1930 and served on the USS Tennessee before attending flight school at Pensacola in 1932. Gilbert was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade on June 5, 1933. He served with V.S. Squad 1-B before returning to Pensacola in 1935-1936. On September 1, 1937 he was promoted to Lieutenant. According to the Navy Registries he was connected with or aboard the Enterprise for three years before his assignment to the Puerto Rico Naval Station in 1940.

Family

Gilbert's father died in 1918 soon after leaving Puerto Rico when the ship he was aboard was swamped. He was able to help others, but was lost (age 44). Gilbert's son died at age 31 after serving as a doctor in Vietnam.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

October 1930

Ensign, USS Tennessee

Others at this command: LTjg Harry Hicks '27.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg Charles Skelly '27 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 5B).

January 1931

Ensign, USS Tennessee

Others at this command: LTjg Harry Hicks '27.

Others at or embarked at this command: LT Stephen Cooke '21 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 5B) and LTjg Charles Skelly '27 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 5B).

April 1931

Ensign, USS Tennessee

Others at this command: LTjg Harry Hicks '27.

Others at or embarked at this command: LT Stephen Cooke '21 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 5B) and LTjg Charles Skelly '27 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 5B).

October 1932

Ensign, Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 1B, USS Langley

Others at or embarked at USS Langley: LT Joyce Ralph '23 (USS Langley) and ENS Charles Hart '30 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 3B).

January 1933

Ensign, Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 1B, USS Langley

Others at or embarked at USS Langley: LT Joyce Ralph '23 (USS Langley), LTjg Arthur Farrell '25 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 5S), and ENS Charles Hart '30 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 3B).

April 1933

Ensign, Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 1B, USS Langley

Others at or embarked at USS Langley: LT Joyce Ralph '23 (USS Langley) and ENS Charles Hart '30 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 3B).

July 1933

Ensign, Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 1B, USS Langley

Others at or embarked at USS Langley: LT Joyce Ralph '23 (USS Langley) and ENS Charles Hart '30 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 3B).

October 1933

Lieutenant (j.g.), Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 1B, USS Langley

Others at or embarked at USS Langley: LT Joyce Ralph '23 (USS Langley) and LTjg Charles Hart '30 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 3B).

April 1934

Lieutenant (j.g.), Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 1B, USS Langley

July 1934

Lieutenant (j.g.), Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 1B, USS Langley

Others at this command: LT Hallsted Hopping '24, LTjg Oscar Pate, Jr. '27, and LTjg Clair Miller '29.

Others at or embarked at USS Langley: 2LT Ernest Pollock '28 (Scouting Squadron 14-M).

October 1934

Lieutenant (j.g.), Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 1B, USS Langley

Others at this command: LT Hallsted Hopping '24 and LTjg Oscar Pate, Jr. '27.

Others at or embarked at USS Langley: LT LaRue Lawbaugh '20 (USS Langley) and 2LT Ernest Pollock '28 (Scouting Squadron 14-M).

January 1935

Lieutenant (j.g.), Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 1B, USS Ranger

Others at this command: LT Hallsted Hopping '24 and LTjg Oscar Pate, Jr. '27.

Others at or embarked at USS Ranger: LCDR Francis Maile, Jr. '15 (USS Ranger), LT Samuel Arthur '20 (USS Ranger), LT Robert Bedilion '22 (USS Ranger), LTjg Clair Miller '29 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 3B), LTjg William Pennewill '29 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 3B), LTjg James Kyes '30 (USS Ranger), LTjg John Burgess '30 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 3B), LTjg Robert Haven '30 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 5B), LTjg Alden Irons '31 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 3B), LTjg Lorenz Forbes '31 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 3B), 1LT Robert Brown '31 (USS Ranger), ENS William Sisko '31 (USS Ranger), LTjg William Freshour '31 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 5B), and ENS Earle Schneider '33 (USS Ranger).

April 1935

Lieutenant (j.g.), Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 1B, USS Ranger

Others at this command: LT Hallsted Hopping '24.

Others at or embarked at USS Ranger: LCDR Francis Maile, Jr. '15 (USS Ranger), LT Samuel Arthur '20 (USS Ranger), LT Robert Bedilion '22 (USS Ranger), LTjg Clair Miller '29 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 3B), LTjg William Pennewill '29 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 3B), LTjg Alden Irons '31 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 3B), LTjg Lorenz Forbes '31 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 3B), ENS William Sisko '31 (USS Ranger), LTjg William Freshour '31 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 5B), and ENS Earle Schneider '33 (USS Ranger).

September 1937

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Enterprise

Others at this command: LCDR Mark Crouter '20.

Others at or embarked at this command: LT Bruce Van Voorhis '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6) and LTjg James Tyler '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6).

January 1938

Lieutenant (j.g.), Scouting Squadron (VS) 6, USS Yorktown

Others at or embarked at USS Yorktown: LCDR James Craig '22 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 5), LT William Ault '22 (USS Yorktown), LT Henry Dozier '27 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LTjg James Averill '27 (Fighting Squadron (VF) 5), LT Robert Winters '27 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LT Lloyd Greenamyer '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LTjg Robert Donaldson '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), ENS Hubert Harden '35 (USS Yorktown), ENS Milton Ricketts '35 (USS Yorktown), ENS Webster Johnson '36 (USS Yorktown), and ENS Bethel Otter '37 (USS Yorktown).

July 1938

Lieutenant, USS Enterprise

Others at this command: LCDR Mark Crouter '20, ENS Webster Johnson '36, ENS Bruce Skidmore '37, and ENS Ernest Wood, Jr. '38.

Others at or embarked at this command: LCDR William Ault '22 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6), LT Bruce Van Voorhis '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6), LTjg Alfred Tucker, III '31 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6), LTjg John Phillips, Jr. '33 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6), LTjg Frank Whitaker '34 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6), LTjg James Tyler '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6), LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6), and LTjg Walker Ethridge '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6).

January 1939

Lieutenant, USS Enterprise

Others at this command: LCDR Mark Crouter '20, ENS Webster Johnson '36, ENS Bruce Skidmore '37, and ENS Ernest Wood, Jr. '38.

Others at or embarked at this command: LCDR William Ault '22 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6), LT Bruce Van Voorhis '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6), LTjg Alfred Tucker, III '31 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6), LTjg John Phillips, Jr. '33 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6), LTjg Frank Whitaker '34 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6), LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6), and LTjg Walker Ethridge '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6).

October 1939

Lieutenant, Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6, USS Enterprise

Others at this command: LTjg John Phillips, Jr. '33, LTjg Frank Whitaker '34, and LTjg Arthur Ely '35.

Others at or embarked at USS Enterprise: LCDR Mark Crouter '20 (USS Enterprise), LT Alfred Tucker, III '31 (USS Enterprise), LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6), LTjg Walker Ethridge '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6), LTjg Hubert Harden '35 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6), ENS Bruce Skidmore '37 (USS Enterprise), ENS Ernest Wood, Jr. '38 (USS Enterprise), and ENS Lester Wall, Jr. '39 (USS Enterprise).

June 1940

Lieutenant, Naval Air Station San Juan, Puerto Rico

November 1940

Lieutenant, Naval Air Station San Juan, Puerto Rico

April 1941

Lieutenant, Naval Air Station San Juan, Puerto Rico


Class of 1930

Gilbert is one of 42 members of the Class of 1930 on Virtual Memorial Hall.