Courtesy of his classmates
United States Military Academy, Class of 1946
Edward Milton Carr – No.16044
Class of 1946
Died 23 April 1948 near Howard Air Force Base, Panama Canal Zone, aged 26 years. Interment: Arlington National Cemetery
Edward Milton Carr was known to his family and friends as Ned. Born into an Army Air Corps family, Ned thoroughly enjoyed the life of an “Army Brat.” His actual place of birth was Rantool, Illinois on 13 March 1922, but the whole world was his home. His high school years were spent in Fairbanks, Alaska and he graduated from Fairbanks High School. From Alaska, Ned moved to California to attend the University of California at Berkeley. When World War II began, Ned enlisted in the Army Air Corps and spent a year on active duty before obtaining his coveted appointment to West Point to join the Class of 1946 on I July 1943.
From day one as a cadet, Ned's driving ambition was to follow in his father's footsteps and fly in the Army Air Corps. Academics were something to be tolerated as a means to his goal and he studied just enough to make sure he would graduate. His family background had prepared him for the discipline of cadet life and he fared well. When the Class was offered the opportunity to obtain pilot's wings in the spring of 1945 Ned jumped at the chance. At last he was to make tangible progress towards his goal. He knew it would be difficult to get both his degree and his wings, but it was just the sort of challenge he relished. He did both very well, managing his efforts for maximum efficiency. In fact, he managed most of his life in the same effective, cheerful way. His friends and classmates remember well how his happy nature came through in the tales he told of his experiences as an “Army brat” and his desire to follow in his father's footsteps. So, it was with a great deal of pride and fulfillment that, at graduation, Ned became a second lieutenant with the pilot wings of the Army Air Corps.
One of Ned's good friends and classmates, Arthur G. (Bill) Moore, Jr., recalled that he and Ned were together after graduation for fighter transition at Williams Field, Arizona. Ned really found everything he had hoped for flying P-51's at Williams Field. Ned and the P-51 were a natural pair. He excelled at aerial gunnery and formation flying, and there was every reason to believe this was the first step in a long and brilliant Air Force career.
Bill Moore recalled: “After we completed transition training, we anxiously awaited
our orders and were delighted when they came through assigning both of us to Shaw Field, South Carolina–he to the 20th Fighter Group and me to another unit. Ned was elated because the 20th was a famous unit with a great history and, best of all they were equipped with P-51's. This was our first permanent station and we were all set for a good experience. I had a new Ford and Ned had a decrepit Lincoln Zephyr, so most often we got around in my car since his seldom worked. It became routine for Ned to go along on my trips to see my family in a nearby town. It soon became obvious why he was so eager to go along, my younger sister. Ned was smitten, and so was she. The last time the three of us were together was in Athens, Georgia over a Georgia–Georgia Tech game weekend after which I was transferred to Panama. They became engaged but put things off because she had accepted a role in the road company of High Button Shoes. In the meantime, Ned had received orders to Panama.”
When Ned reported to the 53rd Fighter Squadron at Howard Air Force Base, Canal Zone, he was immediately scheduled for a geographical orientation flight of the base and local flying area. On 23 April 1948, Ned and the orientation pilot took off in an AT-6 aircraft for this flight. The Army Air Forces Report of Major Accident reads: “Subsequent to take-off and clearance, no further communication with subject aircraft was completed. Upon passing of ETA, local communications and local aircraft search was ordered. Upon passing of actual time of endurance, complete search facilities were alerted under control of Sixth Fighter Wing and through First Emergency Rescue Squadron. Negative results of search over extended period of time caused search to be abandoned, with aircraft and personnel officially classified as missing.” Bill Moore remembers having no sadder duty than on 23 April 1948 when he called his sister in Boston to tell her that Ned had died in a crash while on a routine flight. Ten months later a native hunter discovered the wreckage of Ned's plane. Subsequent investigation revealed the aircraft had flown into a hill approximately 300 feet high. Ned was survived by his mother; sister, Mary and brother, Harold.
It is impossible to rationalize the death of Ned Carr. He had everything going for him, a brilliant future in the Air Force, a career that was the fulfillment of all his dreams as a young man, a fiancée whom he loved very much, and friends who thought the world of him. There is consolation for his family, friends and classmates in that, having known Ned for his short time on this Earth he made each of their lives just a little bit better. He was a good friend and a fine person. His country and the Air Force lost a shining light on that tragic day in April 1948. Bill Moore provided a fitting eulogy for Edward Milton Carr: “I miss Ned Carr and think of him often. I just wish he could have had a bit more time with us.
Man with the burning soul
Has but an hour of breath
To build a ship of truth
On which his soul may sail –
Sail on the sea of death
For death takes a toll
Of beauty, courage, youth,
Of all but truth.
To these beautiful words, the Class of 1946 can only add: “Well Done, Ned: Be
Thou At Peace.”
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard