Letter: A hero among us
I write to honor Cdr. Al Carpenter (USN-ret.). Al celebrated his 40th year of freedom from a North Vietnamese prison on March 4, 2013. When I congratulated him at a recent luncheon at Richardson’s with Andy Maggard, he said he celebrated that day as a second birthday.
We celebrate it with you, my friend. Andy and Al are both retired naval officers and I served three years active duty and 31 years as a civilian working for the Navy. So we are old Navy guys with a great love of country. That is what drew us together to work in various patriot groups to preserve freedom in this country.
No living person I know has paid a greater price for that freedom than has Al Carpenter. He was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 72 aboard the carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA 42) on Yankee Station in 1966. On Nov. 1, 1966, he received orders for a combat mission over the Haiphong Harbor region. He led a flight of three against a missile site and supply routes. He was able to avoid the missiles, but his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire.
He immediately headed for open water, but his aircraft was on fire and he had to eventually eject. He was picked up by Vietnamese fishermen and turned over to the North Vietnamese authorities. He spent the next six and a half years in prison, dealing with all the suffering and strife that entails.
We honor you, Cdr. Al Carpenter, for all you went through to keep America free and the efforts you put forth even now to continue that.