Major Horace Seaver Carswell
(Congressional Medal of Honor)
Horace S. Carswell came from a middle class family; four of his uncles were Methodist preachers. Horace was born in Fort Worth on July 18, 1916, the son of Horace S. and Bertha Carswell.
Horace’s family lived at 1614 Denver Avenue on Fort Worth’s northside. Horace, or Stump as he liked to be called, attended church at Boulevard Methodist Church. His father worked at Swift’s meat packing plant on the northside. Horace and his father liked to go fishing together, and after he was big enough, and also worked summers at the packing plant. Horace attended North Side High School, where he played football. He was a heck of a football player, saw a lot of play on the small North Side team, and scored the winning touchdown on an Armistice Day game against the tough Wichita Falls team in 1933.
After graduation from North Side, Horace attended college at Texas A&M for a year, and then in Fort Worth at TCU (Texas Christian University) where he also played football. At a short but stocky 165 pounds, he was light by today’s standards for the fullback position he played.
On a double date at TCU, Horace met a coed featured in one of the yearbook beauty pages, by the name of Virginia Ede. Virginia was from a ranching family from the west Texas town of San Angelo. Later Horace would meet Virginia again in San Angelo. "Stump" graduated with a degree in business administration from TCU in 1939.
Horace worked for a short time for an insurance company. Then in March 1940, he joined the Army Air Corps. He started as a flight cadet, and after training, graduated from flight school as a second lieutenant in November of 1940. While stationed at Goodfellow Field in San Angelo, Texas, Horace married Virginia Ede.
Horace was a good pilot, and a daredevil, who flew a plane down and buzzed TCU’s Goode Hall, and his father-in-law’s cow camp on the Concho River.
Horace and Virginia’s marriage was a happy one, and their son, Robert Ede Carswell was born at Clovis Army Air Field in September 1943.
World War Two was raging across the world, Horace was promoted to Major and deputy commander of the 308th Bombardment Group in the Pacific Theater. He was flying B-24 Liberator bombers out of China by the spring of 1944. General Claire Chennault’s Fourteenth Air Force was mainly known for the shark nosed fighters, but also had a small force of B-25 and B-24 bombers. They were used mainly in solo attacks and patrols, and also fly supplies "over the Hump" to China. In an early action, he was shot down over the Himalayas, and was able to get back to base, before the news got back to his wife and family.
He was promoted to captain in December 1942 and by April 1943, Carswell was a major. A year later he was on his way to China to join the 308th Bomb Group based at Kunming.
Major Carswell was named operations officer of the 308th's 374th Bomb Squadron.
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for action on October 15, 1944, when he flew a solo attack on six Japanese naval vessels in the South China Sea. In spite of concentrated anti-aircraft fire, his crew scored two direct hits on a cruiser and one direct hit on a destroyer.
Major Carswell was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor (the highest US military award) for his actions in the events of October 26 1944.
His official CMOH citation reads as follows:
"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".
He was finally buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas, USA - Plot: Carswell Park, To Right Of Entrance
Carswell Air Force Base was named after him.