Gary R. Carpenter (1968/01/30)

"I can't smile, I'm supposed to look like a bulldog," was Gary Carpenter's comment to his aunt when she asked him to smile for a picture.

Gary Ralph Carpenter was born on July 6, 1949, in Fresno, California, to Ralph and Jewel Carpenter. At an early age he and his brother Lauren moved to Watsonville where his uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Carpenter, raised them. Gary attended Freedom school and in 1963 enrolled in Watsonville High School. He was remembered as a cheerful industrious student who enjoyed sports, but because of an outside job was unable to participate on the school's teams. Later he joined DeMolay, an organization affiliated with the Masonic lodge, and belonged to the First Methodist Church youth group.

In June 1967, Gary Carpenter graduated from high school and six days later enlisted in the US Marine Corps. Following basic and school-of-infantry training at Camp Pendleton, Private Carpenter returned home on leave. In an interview with a Watsonville Register-Pajaronian reporter, Gary noted that over the past five months he had acquired, "a partiality for burgundy cherry ice cream and a respect for the training administered by the Marine Corps."

On Thanksgiving Day 1967, Gary Carpenter left home for the last time. After arriving in Vietnam, he was assigned to Company H, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines of the 1st Marine Division stationed near Da Nang in Quang Nam province. He was immediately subjected to combat and wrote home that the "Gosses" (term used for Communists) had hit his unit. "I had to run 100 yards to get to my foxhole and get my rifle. When I got to it, a friend was hit and bullets were going around us and I started to pray."

On January 30, 1968, while on a patrol in the Quang Nam Province near the DMZ, Private First Class Gary Ralph Carpenter was killed in action when he was shot in the head by a sniper.

His body was returned to California and was buried at Memorial Park in Selma near his birthplace of Fresno.

(VVMW; WHSM; WRP February 2, 1968 1:1)

Creator: Nelson, Robert L.
Source: Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010.
Date: Undated
Type: OBIT
Coverage: 1960s
Rights: Reproduced by permission of Robert L. Nelson and The Museum of Art & History.
Identifier: RO-CARPENTER

Citation

Nelson, Robert L. “Gary R. Carpenter (1968/01/30).” Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010. SCPL Local History. https://history.santacruzpl.org/omeka/items/show/4880. Accessed 5 Dec. 2022.