Brookline War Memorial
Carl S. Rhodes

Lt. Carl S. Rhodes
United States Navy (1942-1956)

Carl S. Rhodes

United States Navy (1775-present)

Carl Seyler Rhodes was born in Pittsburgh on November 6, 1920, to parents Edmund O. Rhodes and Anna Seyler Rhodes. Edmund was employed as a chemical engineer for the Koppers Company. Named for his maternal grandfather, Carl had one sister, Mary Ann. The Rhodes family lived at 1323 Berkshire Avenue in Brookline until the early 1940s, when they relocated to Mount Lebanon. Carl attended Resurrection School, Central Catholic High, the University of Michigan and the University of Pittsburgh.

In July 1942, Rhodes interrupted his mechanical engineering studies to volunteer for the Navy. He received the gold wings of a naval aviator at Pensacola in August 1943, then joined Composite Squadron 88 (VC-88) on the west coast for pre-operational training as a fighter pilot.

Carl S. Rhodes   Carl S. Rhodes

On April 10, 1944, Ensign Rhodes was forced to parachute from an FM-1 Wildcat after oil pressure was lost, the engine froze and the aircraft began to smoke. His plane crashed and buried itself in reclaimed marshland southwest of Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Rhodes and VC-88 deployed to the Pacific theater of operations in October 1944. During this time he flew the FM-2 Wildcat fighter in more than thirty-five combat missions from the decks of escort carriers USS Hoggatt Bay (CVE-75), during the Battles of Lingayen Gulf/Luzon, and USS Saginaw Bay (CVE-82) during the Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Carl S. Rhodes   Carl S. Rhodes
Lt. (j.g.) Rhodes flew the FM-2 Wildcat fighter during his combat time in the Pacific theater.

Missions typically involved attacking enemy shipping, ground installations, and gun positions; providing close air support for amphibious assaults; and defending allied ships from the attacks of the suicidal enemy kamikaze planes.

During the Pacific Campaign, Lt. (j.g.) Rhodes was awarded two Air Medals for meritorious achievement in aerial flight in the Philippine Islands (January 3 to January 20, 1945) and one for the Battle of Iwo Jima (February 9 to March 11, 1945). For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight at the Battle of Okinawa (March 25 to April 29, 1945) he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and four more Air Medals.

Wildcat fighters launching from an aircraft carrier - 1944

The citation accompanying his fifth Air Medal states that on April 7, 1945, "leading a fighter division over Okinawa, Rhodes skillfully pressed home an attack to destroy an enemy plane which was approaching our surface units, thereby saving our Naval forces from probable damage". The plane was a "Jill", the allied reporting name for the Nakajima B6N, the enemy's primary carrier-borne torpedo bomber in the latter part of the war. It was used as a kamikaze plane for the first time during the Battle of Okinawa.

Distinguished Flying Cross      Air Medal      American Campaign Medal      Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal      World War II Victory Medal      Phillipines Liberation Medal

Lieutenant (j.g.) Carl Seyler Rhodes was released from active duty in December 1945, but remained in the Naval Reserve, and was promoted to lieutenant in 1949. Inactive after 1950, he was honorably discharged on June 18, 1956.

Carl Rhodes married Jane Ann Bodecker of Dormont on November 15, 1943. Carl and Jane raised two children, Ruth Ann and Carl Anthony. After the war, he worked in food service management, a career that took him and his family to Jamestown, NY; Erie, PA; and Indianapolis IN, where he spent much of his life. Carl Seyler Rhodes died in Carmel, Indiana on April 28, 1997.

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Note: Carl's sister, Mary Ann Rhodes, was one of the first three Girl Scouts from Resurrection's Troop #1 to earn the prestigious Golden Eaglet, the highest honor in G.S.U.S. scouting. Mary met Lt. Gregory J. Hobbs while teaching health and physical education at the University of Florida and the two were married on August 18, 1943.

Mary spent the next twenty-three years as an Air Force wife, raising five children. Widowed in 1984, she married Richard Franklin Frakes in 1986 and became a world traveler. Mary Ann Rhodes (Hobbs-Frakes), Brookline's Golden Eaglet, passed away on August 4, 2017, just days shy of her 99th birthday.

* Text and photos provided by Edmund Rhodes Hobbs - March 23, 2021

The Brookline Monument - The Cannon

Brookline Veteran's Park - April 26, 2014

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