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