Major Horace Seaver Carswell: The Face Behind the Base

On February 27, 1948 Fort Worth Army Air Field was renamed “Carswell Air Force Base” in honor of Fort Worth native Major Horace Seaver “Stump” Carswell Jr. (1916–1944) (photo from Wikipedia).

Carswell grew up on the North Side, attended North Side High School.

carswell frogs Carswell played football at TCU, graduated in 1939.

carswell 40 census

The 1940 census listed Horace Jr. living with his parents on Denver Avenue on the North Side.

carswell 1614 denverThe Carswell house on Denver Avenue was built in 1916, the year Horace Jr. was born—106 years ago.

In 1940 Horace Jr. enlisted in the Army, became an Army Air Corps pilot.

carswell MIAMajor Carswell was reported missing in action over China in October 1944 after his B-24 crash-landed.

carswell recommendedThis front page of December 8, 1944 shows how the war dominated news. In the lower right corner is a story stating that Carswell, by then declared killed in action, had been recommended for the Congressional Medal of Honor. Carswell had remained at the controls of his crippled B-24 Liberator as the bomber crash-landed in China. (Consolidated Aircraft Company, adjacent to Fort Worth Army Air Field, built B-24s during the war.) Carswell was twenty-eight years old.

Carswell was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1946.

carswell s-t 2-28-48

Carswell’s heroism was recalled as the air base was renamed for him in 1948. During the ceremony sixteen B-29s flew overhead, and a B-36 was taxied over from the bomber plant.

Carswell Air Force Base originally was called “Tarrant Field Airdrome” and then just “Tarrant Field” and then “Fort Worth Army Air Field.”

Today the base is known as “Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth” and is operated by the Navy (1947 photo from Lockheed Martin).

Major Horace Seaver “Stump” Carswell Jr. was buried in 1944 at Tungchen, China. In  1945 he was reburied at the American Military Cemetery at Kunming, China. In 1947 he was reburied in Hawaii. In 1948 he was reburied in Rose Hill Cemetery in east Fort Worth. Finally, in 1986 his remains were moved to Carswell Air Force Base.

But wait! One more deployment for the remains of Major Carswell came in 1993 when Carswell Air Force Base ceased active Air Force active duty operations, and Major Carswell’s remains were reburied yet again, this time in Carswell Memorial Park in Oakwood Cemetery.

carswell valor

Carswell’s grave at Oakwood Cemetery is part of Carswell Memorial Park.

This marker is at Airfield Falls near the base that was named for Horace Seaver Carswell Jr.

Footnote: The 1955 movie Strategic Air Command starring Jimmy Stewart was filmed in part at Major Carswell’s namesake base. In the control tower scene the adjacent bomber plant’s assembly building can be seen in the background and B-36s in the middle ground. In the bottom scene Stewart is walking with actor Harry Morgan alongside B-36 s/n 5734. Fame is fleeting: In 1957 B-36 s/n 5734 was scrapped.

Posts About Aviation and War in Fort Worth History

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10 Responses to Major Horace Seaver Carswell: The Face Behind the Base

  1. Sandi J. Michel says:

    Wow-I loved Carswell AFB. My dad was there for many many years. Today, my husband, son and I visited the Airfield Fall Conservation Park where the Former House of the Carswell Base Commander lived. It is located right outside of the base. Oh, this park had memories of Carswell AFB.
    Its a great place to visit:

  2. It’s nice to see people remembering him.My father Robert Carswell was the 4 year old who received the Medal of Honor on his father’s behalf. My Dad was a good man but I think loosing his Dad and knowing his Dad willing stayed to land the plane instead of jumping out. Was his greatest pride but also his greatest pain. Possibly feeling his Dad chose that instead of being his Dad.

  3. Keith L. Barr says:

    Hi Handlebar,

    People have asked me, as 301 FW historian, if I know where the location of Maj Carswell’s grave was between 1986 and 1993. Was it across the street in that little park north of the current NAS JRB HQ building? Was one of the photos in this article showing the headstone with the Medal of Honor the same stone that was on base and moved to Oakwood? Thanks. klb

  4. Tommy Carswell says:

    Though not directly related, I am a Carswell. I few years ago I traveled to Ft Worth to find Mjr Carswell’s grave. Based on what I have read, I wasn’t sure if he was buried at Oakwood, but you have verified that he was buried at Oakwood Cemetery when I visited. I don’t know if I could accept knowing that I had not visited the actual grave. Thank you for going to the trouble of clearing this up and accurately preserving history.
    PS: Carswell Memorial Park was well kept when I was there and represented the Carswell family well.

    • hometown says:

      Tommy, I can understand your uncertainty about the major’s final, last, ultimate, no-more-moving resting place!

  5. Lori Cole says:

    Thank you for putting together this history of Major Carswell. My mother was stationed at Carswell AFB in the early 1970’s. I attended 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades at Theodore Willis Elementary (later renamed Willis-Cartwright Elementary to include our principal, Mr. Cartwright’s name). I have such fond memories of my years living in base housing in Ft. Worth.

  6. Dylan York says:

    My great grandfather was a northside boy, and one of Horace’s best friends growing up. One story in particular that he always repeated was that the two of them created a game where each of them would ride through a peach orchard on a horse bareback. Which ever one of them could stay on longer was the winner, avoiding the low hanging branches before they were swept off the horse at high speeds. Later on when my great grandfather had heard of Horace’s death in the war and his act of bravery, he was deeply saddened but not shocked. That was exactly the Horace he had known in their adolescence, not afraid of anything.

    • hometown says:

      What a great anecdote. Growing up in Fort Worth, I doubt that many folks knew (or even wondered about) who Carswell Air Force Base was named after, much less knew anything of the man himself. I was born just a few blocks from where he lived, and I certainly never knew.

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