Gunners Mate 3rd Class Paul Henry Carr, US Navy, was born 13 February 1924 in Checotah, Oklahoma. He was a brother to eight sisters, an athlete, and graduated from Checotah High School in 1942. Paul enlisted in the US Navy in May 1943 and went to boot camp and Advanced Gunnery School Training in San Diego.
He reported to the escort destroyer USS Samuel B Roberts. The ship’s Executive Officer later wrote: “Paul’s leadership and sterling qualities…won for him the battle station of gun captain of one of the ship’s five inch guns. His gun and gun crew were the pride of the ship.”
At 0645 on 25 October 1944, a powerful Japanese naval force took aim at the Leyte Gulf landing beaches. The surprised, outgunned, and outnumbered American escort carrier group known as Taffy 3 attacked the Japanese in the largest naval battle in history.
At 0740, the Roberts’ commander addressed his crew: “This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can.”
At 0800, the Roberts launched its torpedoes against the cruiser Chokai crippling the ship. After 0810, the Roberts, returning to protect the escort carriers, ordered the two 5-inch guns into action against the cruiser Chikuma. During the next 35 minutes, Carr and his aft gun crew fired almost all of their 325 rounds, devastating the Chikuma bridge and superstructure.
At 0851, enemy shells disabled one of the Roberts’ boilers. The power loss to Carr’s gun forced the crew into manually firing until a breech explosion destroyed the mount. Within moments rescuers found Carr mortally wounded, yet trying to load the last round. Even when he was laid down beside his gun he tried a second time before he succumbed from his wounds.
At 0900 the Roberts was again struck. At 0910 came the order to abandon ship.
Gunners Mate 3rd Class Carr was posthumously awarded the Silver Star Medal. The citation reads in part: “…for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Gun Captain on the USS Samuel B Roberts. He gallantly gave his life for his country.” He was also awarded the Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation (Taffy 3) and the Award of the Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation Badge.
The Roberts’ commander, LCDR Robert W. Copeland, wrote to Paul’s wife, Goldie Lee, five months later and said that Paul Carr “…was one of our most outstanding men…His gun was the pride of the ship’s ordnance department, due not alone to his tireless energy…but due to his inspiring leadership, which shown forth like a beacon during the battle of October 25th. Gun “2” was always the outstanding gun, that day it was superb…from anyway we looked at it Paul was the outstanding example of American inspiration [and] courage on board the Samuel B Roberts that day, a courage and devotion to duty which was with him until his last breath.”
The guided missile frigate, USS Carr (FFG-52), was named in his honor on 27 July 1985.