‘God had to be with us’: Siouxland Navy vet recalls World War II service

Veterans Voices

OKOBOJI, Iowa (KCAU) — He served in the Navy for around two years, but those two years were crucial in ending World War II.

Ted R. Carpenter was drafted out of Spencer, Iowa and spent his service throughout the South Pacific Ocean. 

“We were very fortunate, we had a pilot who said I have a mother at home waiting for me and I intend to see her. So he flew the orders that we were given but he wouldn’t go outside of them. Of the eight of us that volunteered to go to these, three of the guys never made it back,” said Carpenter.

He flew missions in B-24’s across the South Pacific during his 23 months of service.

“I didn’t go up every day but we went up every three or four days, and we fly right down the coast of Japan. We were doing air sea rescue work for anything that was out there or reported anything that was in between Iwo Jima and Japan, out in that ocean, it is huge. And those islands are little, and you have to navigate pretty perfectly, so you don’t miss them,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter still recalls a day where his life was nearly taken by the Imperial Japanese Navy. 

“Well, you seen that picture I showed you of the tail being shot off. That was shot off by a little ship off of Japan one morning. He was shooting at us and we were shooting at him. When we got hit in the tail that way, we were a little worried about doing much maneuvering, so we flew on back to Tinian, which took us another four hours. And we came in right straight, we didn’t even circle, and landed,” said Carpenter.

The war continued and on August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Initially, Carpenter didn’t believe it.

“Well I just thought it was an Orson Wells story, what’s it called, scuttlebutt, just a story. I figured somebody just made it up. It didn’t seem possible that we would have something that powerful, that first bomb. But like I said, when the second one dropped, then I did believe it,” Carpenter said.

Not long after, the war was over. 

They had eight submarines, minesweepers, and they had destroyers inside Tokyo bay sweeping out the mines that were in there, so that the next day the Iowa and the Missouri and all those ships could go into the bay and sign the peace treaty with Japan. Two days after that, we were aboard ship on our way home. The war was over.

And the return home was a welcome sight. 

“Oh goodness, it was. That’s what we were looking forward to. Thank goodness God was with us. If we wouldn’t have won that war, think what would we be doing today and what language we’d be talking. If we hadn’t won the second world war. Cause God had to be with us, and we won it,” said Carpenter.

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