Today in Texas History – October 26

From the Annals of the Great War –   In 1944, Major Horace S. “Stump” Carswell, Jr. was killed in action in China.  Carswell, a native of Fort Worth, had enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps after Germany invaded Poland.  After extensive training, he entered the Pacific Theater of Operations in April 1944, as pilot and operations officer of the 374th Bombardment Squadron of 308th Bombardment Group of the 14th Air Force.

On his last mission, Carswell was flying a B-24 Liberator on a single-aircraft sortie against a Japanese convoy in the South China Sea.  He scored two hits on an oil tanker after making a successful second low-level run over the now-alerted convoy.   His co-pilot was wounded and the B-24 had two engines knocked out, a third damaged, a leaking hydraulic system, and a punctured fuel tank.  Despite the damage, Carswell managed to gain enough altitude to reach land, where he ordered the crew to bail out. Eight did, but the bombardier’s parachute was damaged and he could not jump with the others.  Carswell stayed with the bombardier and the wounded co-pilot, and attempted to land the badly damaged craft but was unsuccessful. The aircraft crashed against a mountain, and all three aboard were killed.

Carswell was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for giving “his life…to save all members of his crew” and for “sacrifice far beyond that required of him.” In 1948,  Fort Worth Army Airfield was renamed Carswell Air Force Base.

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