Del Carlton, retired U.S. Marine Corps first lieutenant, was honored for his service during World War II during a ceremony April 5 in Emily.
The presentation was made by retired Marine Lt. Col. Edward M. Hall, a Brainerd resident, on behalf of the Carlton family, friends and unnamed citizens of the United States.
Carlton, 86, was presented with an "Honor Quilt" crafted by Minneapolis artist Sandy Tuzinski. The quilt design represented the aircraft, squadron insignia and special Naval and Marine Corps exploits applicable to Carlton's service during WWII.
Del Carlton (right), retired U.S. Marine Corps first lieutenant, was presented with an "Honor Quilt" by retired Marine Lt. Col. Edward M. Hall.
Carlton, call sign Topaz 23, was one of the first five volunteers to enter the newly formed "Night Fighters" Squadron, flying Hellcat fighter aircraft powered by the famous R2800, 2000 horsepower Pratt and Whitney radial engine. The squadron, designated VMF(N) 542, was formed at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C., on March 6, 1944. It was the forerunner of the modern all-weather fighter squadrons in existence today.
Carlton eventually ended up serving on Okinawa starting the day after D-Day, providing night attacks and cover for the Naval fleet at anchor. After the war, Carlton re-entered college, graduated and became a successful engineer and businessman.
In 2001, Carlton, at the encouragement of the staff and students at Cornerstone Christian School in Emily, and his family, finally gathered his WWII experiences and set them in print. The book, "Sent Forth as a Warrior," was published by Morris Publishing is a series of short stories of Carlton's experiences, each one giving a brief summary of how, even in this modern day, one can apply lessons learned to one's everyday life. Every short chapter followed by brief fatherly advice gives the reader an interesting twist to the story line and leaves the reader with something to think about.
The quilt design represented the aircraft, squadron insignia and special Naval and Marine Corps exploits applicable to Del Carlton's service during WWII.
Carlton is a retired mining engineer who enjoys fishing. He also spends time at Cornerstone Christian School helping youths find their way.
"In his community, Carlton has been an example to follow. After meeting him and talking with him I can see why," Hall said. "I was honored by being selected to present 1st Lt. Del Carlton his award."
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