Carter, James Edward, PO2 Fallen
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Petty Officer Second Class
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1941 - 1943
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Order of the Shellback
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Casualty Date
Oct 11, 1943
Hostile, Died while Missing
Lost At Sea-Unrecovered
Wars and Conflicts/World War II/Lost at Sea/USS Wahoo (SS-238)
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Order of the Shellback Order of the Golden Dragon

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Conflict  :   Campaigns, Battles and Exercises
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Conflict  :   Wars and Conflicts
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Conflict  :   World War II
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Overview of World War II 

World War II killed more people, involved more nations, and cost more money than any other war in history. Altogether, 70 million people served in the armed forces during the war, and 17 million combatants died. Civilian deaths were ever greater. At least 19 million Soviet civilians, 10 million Chinese, and 6 million European Jews lost their lives during the war.

World War II was truly a global war. Some 70 nations took part in the conflict, and fighting took place on the continents of Africa, Asia, and Europe, as well as on the high seas. Entire societies participated as soldiers or as war workers, while others were persecuted as victims of occupation and mass murder.

World War II cost the United States a million causalities and nearly 400,000 deaths. In both domestic and foreign affairs, its consequences were far-reaching. It ended the Depression, brought millions of married women into the workforce, initiated sweeping changes in the lives of the nation's minority groups, and dramatically expanded government's presence in American life.

The War at Home & Abroad

On September 1, 1939, World War II started when Germany invaded Poland. By November 1942, the Axis powers controlled territory from Norway to North Africa and from France to the Soviet Union. After defeating the Axis in North Africa in May 1941, the United States and its Allies invaded Sicily in July 1943 and forced Italy to surrender in September. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the Allies landed in Northern France. In December, a German counteroffensive (the Battle of the Bulge) failed. Germany surrendered in May 1945.

The United States entered the war following a surprise attack by Japan on the U.S. Pacific fleet in Hawaii. The United States and its Allies halted Japanese expansion at the Battle of Midway in June 1942 and in other campaigns in the South Pacific. From 1943 to August 1945, the Allies hopped from island to island across the Central Pacific and also battled the Japanese in China, Burma, and India. Japan agreed to surrender on August 14, 1945 after the United States dropped the first atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


1. The war ended Depression unemployment and dramatically expanded government's presence in American life. It led the federal government to create a War Production Board to oversee conversion to a wartime economy and the Office of Price Administration to set prices on many items and to supervise a rationing system.

2. During the war, African Americans, women, and Mexican Americans founded new opportunities in industry. But Japanese Americans living on the Pacific coast were relocated from their homes and placed in internment camps.

The Dawn of the Atomic Age

In 1939, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt, warning him that the Nazis might be able to build an atomic bomb. On December 2, 1942, Enrico Fermi, an Italian refugee, produced the first self-sustained, controlled nuclear chain reaction in Chicago.

To ensure that the United States developed a bomb before Nazi Germany did, the federal government started the secret $2 billion Manhattan Project. On July 16, 1945, in the New Mexico desert near Alamogordo, the Manhattan Project's scientists exploded the first atomic bomb.

It was during the Potsdam negotiations that President Harry Truman learned that American scientists had tested the first atomic bomb. On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay, a B-29 Superfortress, released an atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. Between 80,000 and 140,000 people were killed or fatally wounded. Three days later, a second bomb fell on Nagasaki. About 35,000 people were killed. The following day Japan sued for peace.

President Truman's defenders argued that the bombs ended the war quickly, avoiding the necessity of a costly invasion and the probable loss of tens of thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives. His critics argued that the war might have ended even without the atomic bombings. They maintained that the Japanese economy would have been strangled by a continued naval blockade, and that Japan could have been forced to surrender by conventional firebombing or by a demonstration of the atomic bomb's power.

The unleashing of nuclear power during World War II generated hope of a cheap and abundant source of energy, but it also produced anxiety among large numbers of people in the United States and around the world.
Patrol  :   Submarine War Patrols
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Patrol  :   USS WAHOO (SS-238) 3rd War Patrol
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Personal Recollections

Wahoo was ready for sea again on 16 January 1943. She performed sonar tests in Moreton Bay with USS Patterson (DD-392) before beginning her third war patrol. Three days later, the submarine passed into Vitiaz Strait en route to her patrol area. Wahoo's orders were to reconnoiter Wewak, a Japanese supply base on the north coast of New Guinea between Kairiru Island and coincidently, Mushu Island. There was one large problem: Wahoo had no charts of the harbor. However, it turned out that motor machinist's mate Dalton Keeter had bought a cheap school atlas while in Australia. It had a map of New Guinea with a small indentation labeled "Wewak". With that as a reference, a blowup of the Navy chart was made.

Japanese destroyer Harusame torpedoed by Wahoo.On 24 January 1943, Wahoo dove two miles (3 km) north of Kairiru Island and proceeded around the western end to penetrate Victoria Bay. She sighted the Japanese destroyer Harusame with RO-class submarines nested around it. The destroyer was getting underway, so Wahoo fired a spread of three torpedoes at the moving target; all missed aft. Another torpedo was fired, but the destroyer avoided by turning away, then circled and headed for Wahoo. Wahoo turned toward the destroyer and at a distance of 750 yards (690 m) fired one last torpedo.[7] This torpedo struck the destroyer amidships, breaking its back. Wahoo had no difficulty escaping the area. Despite heavy damage Harusame was beached and repaired.

The next day, Wahoo changed course for Palau. On 26 January, the submarine sighted the smoke of two ships. Wahoo obtained a position, launched two torpedoes at the leading ship and, 17 seconds later, two at the second ship. The first two torpedoes hit the Fukuei Maru. The third passed ahead of the second freighter, the fourth hit. Upon observing the damage, Wahoo discovered there were two more ships; a huge transport, the Buyo Maru, and a tanker. The Fukuei Maru was listing badly to starboard and sinking by the stern; the second ship was headed directly for Wahoo, at a slow speed. Ignoring this, Wahoo fired a three-torpedo spread at the transport; the second and third hit and stopped her.

Turning her attention to the second target, which was still headed for her, Wahoo fired two bow tubes "down the throat" to stop him. The second torpedo hit, but the target kept coming and forced the submarine to turn hard left at full speed to avoid being rammed. There followed so many explosions that it was hard to tell what was happening. Returning to periscope depth, Wahoo observed the Fukuei Maru had sunk; the second target was still moving, evidently with steering trouble; and the transport, Buyo Maru, was stopped but still afloat.

Wahoo headed for the transport and fired a bow tube; the torpedo passed directly under the middle of the ship but failed to explode. The sub then fired another torpedo which headed right for the stack and blew the target apart midships. The submarine then headed for the crippled freighter, which had formed up with a tanker, and both ships were moving away. Wahoo decided to let these two ships get over the horizon, while she surfaced to charge her batteries and attack the shipwrecked Japanese now sitting in about twenty lifeboats.[8] Controversy still attaches to this action in that troops in the water may have been deliberately targeted by Wahoo. Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood, the contemporary COMSUBPAC, asserts that the survivors were army troops and turned machinegun and rifle fire on Wahoo while she maneuvered on the surface, and that such resistance was common in submarine warfare.[9] Richard O'Kane stated that the fire from Wahoo was intended to force the troops to abandon their boats and that no troops were deliberately targeted.[7] Clay Blair, states that Morton opened fire first and the shipwrecked returned fire with handguns.[10]

After some time, Wahoo moved away to intercept the two fleeing ships. She decided to attack the tanker first since she was as yet undamaged. With only four torpedoes left, the submarine fired two at the tanker, the second hitting her just abaft of midships, breaking her back; she went down almost instantly. Wahoo then turned her attention to the freighter and fired her last two torpedoes without a spread. They both hit. Fifteen minutes later, the freighter sank, having absorbed four hits from three separate attacks. Wahoo then set a course for Fais Island. Postwar, JANAC credited Wahoo with only three sinkings: the transport, Buyo Maru (5,300 tons), Fukuei Maru (2,000 tons), and an unknown maru (4,000 tons).

A broom on the USS Wahoo, Pearl Harbor, 1943On 27 January 1943, Wahoo made contact with a convoy of eight ships, including two freighters and a tanker. Efforts to gain a position were foiled by a persistent destroyer escort who dropped six depth charges. The submarine had no option but to retreat since she had previously expended all torpedoes. The next day, Wahoo sighted Fais Island, and her plan to shell a phosphorite refinery was scrapped due to the untimely appearance of an inter-island steamer.

The submarine left station and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 7 February, only 23 days after leaving Brisbane (most patrols were in the 60?75 day range). Prior to entering the naval base, Wahoo donned topside embellishments to celebrate her victory. A straw broom was lashed to her periscope shears to indicate a clean sweep. From the signal halyard fluttered eight tiny Japanese flags, one for each Japanese ship believed to have been sunk by Wahoo to that point in the war.

Wahoo commenced refit by a tender relief crew and the ship's crew. On 15 February, refit was completed, and the submarine was declared ready for sea on 17 February. She then conducted two days of training and was drydocked at the Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, on 21 February.

Last Updated:
Nov 23, 2009

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