Retired Aug. 1, 1970. Died Nov. 8, 1996.
Lieutenant General John W. Carpenter III is assistant vice chief of staff, U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. He has additional duty as senior Air Force member, Military Staff Committee, United Nations.
General Carpenter was born in Starkville, Miss., in 1916. He graduated from high school in Stillwater, Okla., and later studied engineering at Oklahoma A&M and Mississippi State College. He entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1935, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in military science in 1939. He also attended the Air Command and Staff School and the Air War College. After graduation from the U.S. Military Academy, he attended the Air Corps flying schools at Tulsa, Okla., and Randolph and Kelly fields, Texas, receiving his pilot wings in June 1940.
He was assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group at March Field, Calif., where he served as a heavy bombardment pilot, navigator and bombardier. In May 1941 he participated in the first mass flight of B-17s from Hamilton Field, Calif., to Hickam Field, Hawaii. In October 1941 he accompanied the 19th Bombardment Group as navigator on a B-17 from Albuquerque, N.M., to Clark Field, the Philippine Islands, where he was assigned as squadron intelligence officer and combat crew commander.
When the Japanese attacked Clark Field, General Carpenter was airborne on a reconnaissance mission and his aircraft was the first to land at Clark Field after the Japanese attack. The following day he flew the first reconnaissance mission to Formosa. After flying on several missions against the Japanese, he went to Bataan where he commanded the ground echelon of the 19th Bombardment Group. After serving with the Infantry for two months he was evacuated to Java by submarine and rejoined his unit. He continued to fly on combat missions until the 19th Bombardment Group returned to the United States, in December 1942, where he served on tours of duty at Eglin Field, Fla.; Headquarters Army Air Forces Bombardment Training Division, Washington, D.C.; and Headquarters Twentieth Air Force in Washington and the Mariana Islands.
After World War II he was at the Air Command and Staff School for two and one-half years as student and instructor. He next served in the Philippine Islands, first as commander, 5th Reconnaissance Group, and later as vice commander, Thirteenth Air Force. In 1951 he was transferred to headquarters of Air Research and Development Command (now the Air Force Systems Command), Baltimore, Md., where he served in various capacities including chief of staff.
General Carpenter entered the Air War College in July 1953, and in July 1954 he became vice commander of Arnold Engineering Development Center at Arnold Air Force Station, Tenn. He returned to Air Research and Development Command headquarters in March 1955 as inspector general and later became chief of plans and programs. In September 1957 he was named assistant vice commander of ARDC and served in this position until March 1959 when he assumed command of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. While there he was awarded the missileman badge. It was during his command of the Flight Test Center that the X-15 made its first flight at Edwards.
In July 1961 General Carpenter was transferred to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., where he first served as deputy director of plans, then as director of plans and in July 1964 he assumed duty as assistant deputy chief of staff for plans and operations (Joint Chiefs of Staff Matters). In August 1965 he became commander of Air University.
In July 1968 General Carpenter was again transferred to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as deputy chief of staff, personnel. In August 1969 he was appointed assistant vice chief of staff, U.S. Air Force, with additional duty as senior Air Force member, Military Staff Committee, United Nations.
His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters, the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters and the Air Medal with oak leaf cluster.