- Category: USS Arizona Survivor Stories
- Last Updated: Saturday, 21 November 2015 22:12
- Published: Friday, 21 September 2001 00:00
Carl M. Carson, 79, Bolivar, died Saturday, Jan. 13, 2001, at Citizens Memorial Health Care Facility. The cause was cancer.
He and his wife, the former Anna Reynolds of Bolivar, had lived on a farm five miles northwest of Bolivar since 1961. He was born in Corbin City, Kan., which lies just south of Cherryvale in the southeastern part of the state. The family worked on farms in the area. Mr. Carson went to school in Cherryvale, including Cherryvale High School, and enlisted in the navy in 1940.
He was a seaman on the Arizona when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and sank that ship and several others. Mr. Carson was below decks when the first bombs hit on that Sunday morning 60 years ago and the Arizona began to sink. He made his way into the No. 2 gun turret, which housed three of the ship's huge 14-inch guns, and then climbed to the top and out the hatch. The harbor was filled with smoke and fire, he recalled later, and all was chaos. Later he was blown into the water by another bomb and then rescued by a fellow seaman. His lungs ruptured, Mr. Carson passed into unconsciousness at that point and remembered nothing more until he woke up in an oxygen tent in a hospital on shore.
After spending several weeks in the hospital to recuperate from his injuries, Mr. Carson rejoined the fleet and spent the rest of the war in the Pacific, part of the time being stationed on a supply ship. He also did a stint helping operate the airstrip on the otherwise uninhabited island of Palmyra in the South Pacific. He was promoted to chief petty officer.
In 1955 Mr. Carson, who had never married, was working as a navy recruiter at the post office in Jefferson City. Also working there, in the Bureau of Public Roads, was Anna Reynolds, who had grown up beside the S-curves on Mo. 32 west of Bolivar. They met, began dating and were married Jan. 20, 1956. The Carsons lived in the Philippines when he was assigned there by the Navy, and later at a Navy base in California. His death came a week before the couple's 45th anniversary.
All during his years in the Navy, Mr. Carson dreamed of having a farm someplace back in the Midwest when he retired. In 1961, when he left the service, he and his wife bought the 160 acres on a gravel road which they still owned at the time of his death. At first the Carsons had a dairy operation and then became beef producers. While in the Navy, Mr. Carson taught a shop class and was always fascinated by machinery, particularly farm machinery, and shop tools. At one time he owned three tractors, two pickups, a van and a car, and in his professional-size shop on the farm he had more than 20 portable circular saws, in addition to many other power tools.
Mr. Carson never returned to Pearl Harbor after the war and had never seen the shining USS Arizona memorial built atop the relics of the ship until last fall when he and his wife were taken back as guests of National Geographic. The sight of the memorial and the ruined ship in which so many of his friends are entombed proved to be a painful and torturous emotional experience for the retired Navy man. "I'm glad I went back," he was to say later, "but I don't ever want to go again."
Surviving besides his wife are two brothers and their wives, Robert and Ilona Carson, who live on a farm adjoining that of Carl and Anna, and Jerry Lee and Kitty Carson of Dearing, Kan.; a sister, Joan Robinett of Coffeyville, Kan.; a sister-in-law, Luella Anderson, Bolivar; and several nieces, nephews and cousins, most of whom live in Kansas.
Services were Tuesday, Jan. 16, in the Butler Funeral Home Chapel with the Rev. Virgil Kearney officiating. Musical soloist was Dr. David Hacker with Carol Krueger as pianist. Burial was in Barren Creek Cemetery west of Bolivar. Casketbearers were Jim Brown, Bob Beason, Ray Potts, Keith Parminter, Jack Glendenning and Tim Ragain.
Information researched and compiled by I. B. Nease and N. A. Nease and provided on USSARIZONA.ORG free of charge.
May not be reprinted in any form, other than educational use, without prior written permission of the author.
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