Aviation Pioneer, General Killed
ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) _ Retired Marine Gen. Marion E. Carl, a World War II ace who went on to become a record-setting test pilot, was killed in a home invasion robbery. His wife was wounded.
Deputies were searching the wooded hills of southern Oregon today for the robber who shot the 83-year-old Carl, one of the U.S. Marine Corps’ most highly decorated aviators.
His wife, Edna, who suffered a glancing shotgun blast to the head, told police a young man carrying a shotgun, wearing sunglasses and accompanied by a German shepherd kicked in the front door late Sunday.
She said the man asked for money and her car keys, and then opened fire when her husband confronted him.
Carl was considered by military historians to be the ``Chuck Yeager of the Marine Corps″ for his flying exploits that spanned from World War II to Vietnam and included 18 aerial victories.
A native of Hubbard, Ore., Carl was commissioned a Marine second lieutenant in 1939 and saw his first combat on Midway Island in 1942. Later that year, he became the first Marine fighter ace, downing three Japanese bombers and a fighter plane over Guadalcanal. He ended his stint at Guadalcanal with 11 combat aircraft destroyed, according to the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Fla.
Following the war, Carl became a Navy test pilot, setting a world speed record of 651 mph on Aug. 25, 1947, at Muroc Field, now Edwards Air Force Base, in California.
But his fame was fleeting. Yeager, the Air Force’s top test pilot, wrested away the title of world’s fastest human by breaking the sound barrier two months later, also at Muroc. He flew a Bell X-1 rocket plane to Mach 1.07 _ 700 mph _ on Oct. 14.
In 1953, Carl set a world altitude record of 83,235 feet and two years later flew U-2 photo reconnaissance missions over Red China.
He returned to combat during the Vietnam War, commanding the 2nd Marine Air Wing. He retired in 1973, with 13,000 flying hours, a Navy Cross with two Gold Stars, the Legion of Merit with three Gold Stars, the Distinguished Flying Cross with four Gold Stars and the Air Medal with 13 Gold Stars.
In an interview last year with the the News Review of Roseburg, Carl said his military career provided him with opportunities that ``I never expected or even dreamed of ... I was blessed with the physical and emotional characteristics needed to make a career of the one endeavor I wanted most to pursue on this earth _ flying fighter and experimental aircraft.″
Mrs. Carl told police the robber stole $200 to $400 and the couple’s 1984 Audi sedan. She said she there may have been another person outside because there was a ``commotion″ in the driveway before the man drove off.
The car was abandoned about five miles west of the home, and the dog was found about a mile away. The robber apparently fled into the nearby woods.
``It appears to be totally random _ random and irrational and not thought out,″ said Douglas County sheriff’s Detective Joe Perkins.