This Memorial Day let’s remember William Stanley Carpenter Jr., a 1955 graduate of Springfield High School (Pa).
While Carpenter survived his intense combat in Vietnam and would go on to retire as a lieutenant general, his accomplishments are overlooked in a time of a politically correct establishment media dominated by mindless pop culture.
Carpenter was seven when his father died fighting in the Ruhr pocket in 1945 shortly before VE Day in World War II. An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer a few years back indicated this inspired a desire to take vengeance on the Nazis leading to a military career.
At Springfield, he was a star in football, basketball and track. He was a member of the school’s inaugural Athletics Hall of Fame inductions in 1992.
From there he would go on to West Point being admitted in July 1956 and become a football legend at that school as “The Lonesome End”, the title coming from the unusually long distance he would be from his fellow linesman at scrimmage. Army ended up ranked Number 3 in the nation in 1958 and Carpenter received much national exposure being named an All American in 1959.
Carpenter would also receive All American honors the next year for lacrosse, a sport he had never played before entering West Point, which is a bit ironic as Springfield, which did not adopt the sport until the mid-70s, has developed a reputation for it.
Carpenter was graduated from West Point in 1960 and entered the Army as a second lieutenant. Four years later, he found himself assigned as an adviser to a Vietnamese airborne brigade which came under heavy fire when it was inserted into a sugar cane field. Carpenter was shot in the arm while changing rifle magazines and his radio set was hit by another bullet. He found the bunker from which the fire was coming and knocked it out with a hand grenade. He was awarded the Silver Star.
In 1966, Carpenter, now a captain in command of C Company, 2/502nd Parachute Infantry of the 101st Airborne Division, found his company about to be overrun by North Vietnamese in a battle near Dak To. Carpenter radioed for a napalm strike on his position saying “We’re overrun, they’re right in among us. I need an air strike on my position.” While several of his soldiers were wounded in the strike, his company was able to regroup and break free. He was awarded another Silver Star which was upgraded to Distinguished Service Cross.
Carpenter became the first commander of the 10th Mountain Division after its reactivation in 1984, and then became commander of U.S. Army Field Forces Korea before his retirement.
He now lives in Montana.