On the last Monday of each May, our nation comes together to remember those who gave their lives in service to this country. This Memorial Day, Veteran Energy would like to highlight three Texas warriors who paid the ultimate price and gave everything they had.
Horace S. Carswell Jr. Born in Fort Worth in 1916, Horace Carswell joined the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1940, shortly after the Nazis invaded Poland. For several years, Carswell worked as a flight instructor, gradually working his way up the military ranks. By 1944, he was commanding crews assigned to fly long-range bombing missions.
On the night of October 26 of that same year, Carswell and his crew flew a single-plane mission against a Japanese convoy in the South China Sea. They scored two hits on a tanker, but their plane was damaged by enemy fire. Carswell was able to get the plane over land, and he ordered his men to bail. But two could not. One was seriously wounded. The other had a damaged parachute. Carswell stayed with them, hoping to crash-land to safety. The three died when the plane hit the side of a mountain. Posthumously, Carswell was awarded the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross and the Air Medal.
Neel E. Kearby. Born in Wichita Falls in 1911, Neel Kearby joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1937 right after graduating from college. Early in his military career, as World War II began to ramp up, Kearby honed his craft flying P-39s and P-47s. By the early 1940s, he was considered a fighter ace, claiming up to 21 enemy kills.
On March 5, 1944, Kearby and fellow pilots attacked a formation of Japanese fighter planes flying near Papua, New Guinea. Kearby shot one of the planes down, bringing his total to 22, but was shot down himself. Wounded, the fighter ace managed to escape the cockpit and deploy his parachute as his plane crashed into the jungle below. He later died of his injuries. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. And he’d also earned the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart and the Air Medal.
Felix Z. Longoria Jr. Born in Three Rivers in 1920, Felix Longoria enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1944, toward the end of World War II. After training in 1945 as an infantryman, he was sent to Luzon Island in the Philippines. It’s there where U.S. and Allied Forces fought the Japanese for eight months. More than 1,000 U.S. soldiers never lived to see Japan’s loss of the island in March of 1945. Longoria was one of them, killed in an ambush while on patrol just two weeks into his stay at Luzon. He was awarded the Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal and Combat Infantryman Badge posthumously.
Longoria is best known for the Felix Longoria Affair, an incident where Longoria’s wife was not permitted to keep his remains at a Three Rivers funeral home before burial because he was of Mexican heritage. The incident made national news. Then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson—in an effort to help cool the situation—stepped in and arranged for Longoria’s remains to be brought to Arlington National Cemetery. He was buried there with full military honors.
At Veteran Energy, we’re so grateful for the bravery of Americans like Kearby, Carswell and Longoria. And they’re all in our hearts and minds this Memorial Day.