Herbert Carlisle, Captain, U.S. Army, Korean War Part 2

Published 2:00 pm Friday, April 14, 2023

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From Herb Carlisle’s Korea diary, “Our new location was below a small hill and on the other side was a small clump of trees where we had an outpost. About a half-mile from the outpost was a large hill called 1051. It got its name from its height…One day I had my driver take me to the outpost to pay my men…You felt like a sitting duck, out in the open with the enemy on the hill looking you in the face.

“Every afternoon, a P-51 aircraft would strafe Hill 1051…I noticed that it never got a response from the enemy…There was an NBC correspondent who visited our aid station and took movies of a helicopter evacuation. I was assigned to be his host…The next day I took him up to the battle line where the infantry battalion was located. Mortar rounds were flying between us from the enemy…One round flew over our heads as we climbed the hill and we hit the ground. I skinned my knee pretty bad. It bothered me for three months… About 20 yards below us, I saw an engineer get killed when he stepped on a mine.” 

Before taking over as the new Supply Officer for the Medical Company, Herb and the officer he was relieving found that approximately 600 blankets were missing. After a trip to the MASH [{Military Army Surgical Unit], it was discovered that most of the missing blankets were there. It turned out that most of the ambulance drivers just dropped off their patients and didn’t wait for replacement blankets.

While in Korea, Herb Carlisle continued to send his tithes to his church, the Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile. Herb recalled, “I usually sent a short note with my tithe, describing how things were going and how many casualties we were having…I didn’t know it until I returned home and my sister told me that the pastor read every note to the congregation. I guess it was to encourage others to tithe.”

Herb’s time in Korea came to an end and he returned home in 1952. After a 30-day leave, he reported to Camp Pickett in Virginia. He was given a choice to remain in the Army for another three months or to get out. He chose to leave the Army and returned to his old job at Brookley Army Air Base.

In 1954, Herb was given the job of organizing the Medical Company for the 200th Infantry Regiment. After he got the company organized, he was designated as Administrative Officer and promoted to the rank of Captain. The headquarters of the company had been moved to Tuscaloosa and Herb kept busy traveling a lot. In July 1954, Herb requested to be placed in the inactive Alabama National Guard. He remained there until September 1959 when he was honorably discharged.

Herb continued his work at the MOAMA at Brookley Field. He was selected to oversee the selection of spare parts for the F-105 aircraft built by Republic Aviation on Long Island, N.Y. Over a nine-month period, Herb traveled between Mobile and Long Island many times. During his many conferences with Republic Aviation officials and the Air Force plant representative, Herb determined that the parts listing for the aircraft were incomplete. It took several heated meetings before Herb was able to receive the updated parts list in December 1956. Herb traveled to New York City on January 4, 1957, to participate in the conference to select the spare parts for the support of the F-105 aircraft. The entire process lasted until the end of February.

While in New York City, Herb attended the Calvary Baptist Church on Sundays. There he met Jeanette Searcy who was also from Alabama. She had traveled from her home in Andalusia, Alabama, to New York City to help her aunt run a delicatessen. In March 1957, Jeanette moved back to Andalusia. After Herb returned to Mobile, he spent weekends with Jeanette in Andalusia. They were married September 14, 1957, at the First Baptist Church in Andalusia, by the Rev. John Jeffers.

Herb and Jeanette lived in Mobile while he continued his work with MOAMA. Their daughter, Nancy, was born in March 1959, and their son, Gary, was born in March 1960. Herb spent time at Redstone Arsenal at Huntsville, Alabama, working on the Thor missile system. When he returned to Mobile, he was assigned as supervisor for the Equipment Section for the Thor missile. He was responsible for getting the equipment required to keep the Thor missile operational.

Herb and the family moved to Virginia briefly, where he worked for the Defense Supply Agency. That office was closed in 1964 and Herb was assigned to the Air Force Logistics Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. They moved to Fairborn, Ohio, where Herb and Jeanette became active in the First Baptist Church.

In the late 1960s, Herb became interested in local politics. He ran for a City Council seat and was elected in 1971. While a member of the City Council, Herb became concerned about the lack of doctors and medical facilities in Fairborn, a city with a population of 33,000. He was influential in getting a new $6.7 million Ambulatory Care Center built on the campus of Wright State University.

Herb Carlisle ran for mayor of Fairborn in 1977 and won. He was sworn in on December 7, 1977. As Mayor, Herb was involved in the 75th Anniversary of Powered Flight in 1978. He was able to meet Lt. Gen. Jimmy Doolittle several times. He was also able to meet with Isabel Wright Miller and Horace Wright, the niece and nephew of the Wright brothers. With his job at Wright-Patterson AFB and as Mayor of nearby Fairborn, Herb enjoyed the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Herb retired on September 30, 1983, and he and Jeanette moved to Andalusia, Alabama, where they became active in the First Baptist Church. Jeanette’s mother moved into their home after her father died. That was one of the reasons for moving back to Andalusia. Herb enrolled in real estate school and earned his realtor’s license. He worked for Bob Rawls Realty for several years before going back to real estate school and earning his broker’s license.

In 1984, Herb joined with Dorothy Cook and bought Village Square Realty. Besides dealing in real estate, Herb began buying houses, renovating them and then renting them. After several years, Herb sold his part of the business to Dorothy Cook.

Herb lost Jeanette on September 22, 1992. Herb remembered, “Gary and I were at the hospital when Jeanette died. It seemed ironic that we came back to Andalusia to look after her mother, and Jeanette died before Mrs. Searcy.”

Herb’s pastor at the First Baptist Church, the Rev. John Foster, persuaded him to come to work at the church as Minister to Senior Adults in December 1994. Herb put his heart and soul into his work with his new ministry. He regularly visited church seniors at home and in the hospital. He also organized a Bible study at the nursing home.

In 1993, through the suggestions of friends, Herb met Sue Seales, who was also widowed. They were married on April 9, 1997. Since that time, they have traveled extensively as long as their health would permit. They remain happily married and reside in Andalusia.

At the age of 94, Herb reflected on the things he was blessed to witness in his life, “I have seen the automobile go from a T-Model Ford to a driverless car; I have seen air travel go from a DC-3 to a widebody jet that can carry 600 passengers; I have seen farming go from a one-horse farm to large acreage with air-conditioned tractors and all sorts of harvesting equipment; I have seen the ice box cooled by ice become the refrigerator that dispenses ice; I have seen ladies’ fashions go from long, knee-length dresses to mini-skirts to short-shorts; I have seen the Berlin Wall and saw it fall; I saw the first man on the moon…I have seen many other changes and I feel blessed to have lived so long.”

John Vick

The author thanks Herb and Sue Carlisle for sharing Herb’s story. Herb is a remarkably kind and caring man who has served others as we are instructed in Mathew 25: verse 40.

Information for Herb’s stories were taken from his book, “From Poverty to Lower Middle Class,” which he published in 2020.