USS Carr enters the history books
Muskogee Phoenix, Okla.
CHECOTAH — Juanita Carr Rush recalls feeling "all kinds of emotions" during the recent decommissioning ceremony for the USS Carr.
The guided missile frigate was named for Rush's older brother, Paul Henry Carr, a World War II naval hero and Checotah native. Rush was one of several members of the Carr family to attend the decommissioning service March 13.
The Muskogee woman said the ceremony was "like a death in a way. Everyone was somber."
"It just grabs you," she said, comparing it to the time she attended the commissioning of the USS Carr on July 27, 1985.
Members of Carr's family don't want the ship — or him — to be forgotten. The family formed a foundation to enlarge and improve the Paul Carr exhibit at the Katy Depot Museum and Historical Center. The center is closed while the display is being refurbished.
Carr was a gunner's mate third class in the Navy when he was killed Oct. 25, 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. He was 20.
A brochure about Carr says his ship, the USS Samuel B. Roberts, was surrounded by Japanese ships that morning. Relentless shelling knocked out power in the gun mount.
"The gun mount overheated and exploded, killing almost all of the crew members," the brochure said. "When a member of the repair party entered the gun mount, he found the gun captain, Carr, torn open from the neck downward, still trying to manually load the 54-pound projectile."
The Navy awarded a Silver Star to Carr posthumously and commissioned a guided missile frigate bearing his name. The ship's keel was laid in March 1982. The Carr was launched the following year and commissioned in July 1985.
According to an Associated Press report, the Carr went on 13 deployments. It was the first ship on the scene in 1988 when a fire aboard a submarine forced the rescue of nearly 90 sailors off the coast of Florida.
The AP reported that the ship's crew recovered nearly 324 kilograms of cocaine as part of a multination effort to target drug trafficking last year.
"I couldn't count the number of times it went to the Persian Gulf," said Perry Schulze, Carr's nephew.
Schulze, also a Muskogee resident, said he had been on the Carr three times, including a last walk-through at the decommissioning.
"It's kind of small and cramped, full of stuff," he said. "Everything above the deck is aluminum. It's covered with material that absorbs radar."
He said he had met some of the men who served with Carr on the Samuel B. Roberts.
"Getting to meet and be with these guys restored my patriotism," Schulze said, adding that he was born in 1957, long after his uncle was killed.
Carr's niece, Joan Frame, was 10 when Carr was killed.
"I just remember him being tall, handsome and sturdy-built," the Checotah woman said. "I remember how handsome he looked in his whites — the white Navy uniform. My mother was so proud of him."
Rush also was only 10 when her brother was killed.
"I remember everyone was in the room and they all had their arms around each other," she said.
Carr died Oct. 25, 1944, but the family did not learn of his death until mid-November.
"That winter, whenever my mother would go out to do chores, I remember she would cry," Rush said. "She would choose that time to cry."