Paul K. Carlton

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Paul Kendall Carlton

Birthplace: Manchester, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, United States
Death: November 23, 2009 (88)
San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, United States
Place of Burial: 5136 Eagle Drive, Air Force Academy, El Paso County, CO, 80840, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Reuben W Carlton and Private
Husband of Helen Carlton
Father of Lieutenant General Paul K. Carlton Jr.
Brother of Private and Private

Managed by: Alex Bickle
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Paul K. Carlton

General Paul Kendall Carlton (April 14, 1921 – November 23, 2009), also known as P. K. Carlton, was commander in chief of the Military Airlift Command, with headquarters at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.


General Paul K. Carlton passed away on Monday, November 23, 2009. A great American patriot and hero, he faithfully served God, his country, and his Air Force. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. In sickness and in health, he remained committed until death to his beloved wife of 67 years. He is survived by his wife, Helen Carlton; children: Dorothy E. Sievert and husband, Peter, of River Forest, IL, and Lt. Gen. Paul K. Carlton, Jr., USAF (Ret.) and wife, Jan, of College Station, TX; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. General Carlton was born in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 1921, and graduated from Academy High School, Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1939. He attended the University of Pittsburgh and Ohio University, and in September 1941 entered the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Program. He received his pilot wings and commission as a Second Lieutenant in April 1942 at Albany Army Airfield, Georgia. It was there that he met and married the former Helen Sweat. General Carlton was a B-17 Flying Fortress instructor pilot with Air Training Command until 1944. He then flew B-29 aircraft with the first group operating against the Japanese mainland from India and China in World War II, accumulating a total of 350 combat hours. General LeMay awarded General Carlton a Silver Star for piloting home his battle-damaged B-29 - rather than diverting into Russia, which would have meant being interned for the rest of the war. After flying a mission over Tokyo, Japan, that lost 14 of 16 aircraft, then-Captain Carlton boldly explained to Commanding General Curtis LeMay why poor tactics resulted in so many casualties and offered a better strategy. Then-Captain Carlton led the next day's mission across Tokyo - without losing a single aircraft. Following World War II, from January 1946 to September 1949, he was assigned to Strategic Air Command's first atomic bomb organization, the 509th Bombardment Wing, Roswell Air Force Base, New Mexico. During that time in Roswell, General Carlton was the chief military investigator of the alleged un-identified flying object (UFO) incident. This was followed by a four-year assignment as aide-de-camp to Strategic Air Command (SAC) Commander-in-Chief General Curtis E. LeMay. His service as an Air Force line officer at numerous military installations was marked with distinction and innovative problem-solving. While serving as a Major at SAC Headquarters, he crafted the nuclear strike strategy for the United States. Rather than living with the status quo of the one-way mission planning he lived at Roswell, he devised and implemented the mid-air refueling strategy, marked by the KC-97, the KC-135, and KC-10, which Air Force pilots still use to this day. General Carlton earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for safely landing a B-47, which had lost all flight controls, using differential thrust to control the aircraft. Three times he served as a SAC Wing Commander; consistently leading with integrity - even when doing the right thing risked his career. During his Air Force career, General Carlton was selected to attend the National War College in Washington, D.C., and the George Washington University. A command pilot, General Carlton has more than 12,000 flying hours and has flown the B-17, B-24, B-25, B-29, B-47, B-50, B-52, including the "H" model, supersonic B-58 Hustler, B-1, KC-135, C-141, C-5 and the Mach 3 plus SR-71 strategic reconnaissance aircraft. In 1972, General Carlton assumed command of the Military Airlift Command (MAC) and later became CINCMAC. In that role he successfully implemented the American airlift to Israel during the Yom Kippur War (Operation Nickel Grass), in which MAC C-141s and C-5 Galaxies moved 22,395 tons 6,500 miles through highly sensitive airspace to Israel over 33 days. That effort led to three major changes in the airlift world: stretching the C-141 and making it air-refueling capable, buying the large tanker needed for the C-5- which became the KC-10, and defining MAC as a specified command under the control of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He retired from the Air Force on March 31, 1977, one month after accomplishing these goals. General Carlton spent his post-retirement years investing in his beloved family. His daughter, Dorothy Sievert, Ph.D., is a mother of three (Julie, Beth, and Scott) and a retired high school principal in the Chicago area. His son, Lt. General Paul K. Carlton, Jr., is a father of four (Paul III, Christa, Stephanie, and Luke) and the retired Air Force Surgeon General now serving as Director of Homeland Security at Texas A&M Health Science Center. General Carlton delighted in meeting his great-grandchildren: Evie and Paul IV.

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Paul K. Carlton's Timeline

April 14, 1921
Manchester, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, United States
May 13, 1947
Roswell, Chaves County, NM, United States
November 23, 2009
Age 88
San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, United States
December 14, 2009
Age 88
United States Air Force Academy Cemetery, 5136 Eagle Drive, Air Force Academy, El Paso County, CO, 80840, United States