Richard Henry Carmichael was born on April 11, 1913 in Hillsboro, Texas. He graduated San Antonio High School in 1930 and received a congressional appointment to West Point and graduated in the class of 1936.
After graduation, Carmichael was assigned to the Field Artillery then was transfered to flight school at Randolph Field and received his wings during 1937. Afterwards, he served in a variety of flying assignments based at Hawaii, Fort Douglas and Hamilton Field. During December 1941, he was the Commanding Officer (C. O.) of the 88th Reconnaissance Squadron.
On December 6, 1941 Major Carmichael led a ferry flight of B-17 Flying Fortresses that departed Hamilton Field bound for Hickam Field that arrived in the morning of December 7, 1941 during the first wave of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and Oahu. He landed his B-17 on an emergency field of 1,200' and quickly placed it in a dispersal area. For this General MacArthur awarded him with his first Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).
On February 11, 1942 Major Richard H. Carmichael led "A flight" of B-17 Flying Fortresses that departed Hickam Field on Oahu a flight across the Pacific bound for Australia. The flight departed Hickam Field and first flew to Christmas
Airfield. The next day,
then landed at Nandi Airfield on Fiji and were delayed one day while the loyalties of the
Vichy French in New
Caledonia were ascertained. Once considered safe,
they transited through Plaine
Des Gaiacs Airfield, and flew to Australia, arriving at Garbutt
February 20, 1942.
In Australia, Carmichael became the Commanding Officer (C. O.) of the 19th Bombardment Group. On February 22-23, 1942 Major Richard H. Carmichael led the first American bombing missions in the South-West Pacific Area that took off
Field near Townsville on the first American bombing mission against Japanese shipping in Simpson Harbor near Rabaul. Afterwards the formation landed at 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby to
refuel them return to Garbutt
Airfield. Only five B-17s managed to reach
Rabaul, the others aborted. Returning, B-17E 41-2446 force landed in a swamp on the north coast of New Guinea.
On October 15, 1942 Carmichael participated in an award ceremony at Mareeba Airfield with Major General George C. Kenney (C.O., 5th Air Force), Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker (Commanding General, 5th Bomber Command) to award the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) to members of the 19th Bombardment Group. The ceremony was documented by LIFE Magazine photographer George Strock.
As commander of the 19th Bomb Group, Colonel Carmichael participated in 25 combat missions against the Japanese. An excerpt from his Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) reads: "Although both his side gunners were killed and his airplane heavily damaged, he continued to press home the attack."
Later, Carmichael became the Commanding Officer (C.O.) of the 20th Air Force, 462nd Bombardment Group equipped with the B-29 Superfortress. On August 20, 1944 Carmichael piloted B-29 Superfortress 42-24474 that took off from Piardoba Airfield on a mission against Yawata. Over the target, this bomber was intercepted by Ki-45 Nick and Ki-84 Frank fighters and was hit by an enemy air-to-air bomb that caused structural damage and a fire. Carmichael ordered the crew to bail out over the western coast between Kyūshū and Iki Island. Eight of the crew were captured and became Prisoners Of War (POW).
Prisoner Of War (POW)
Col. Carmichael was detained at Omori POW Camp in Tokyo until the end of the war. At the end of the war, he was released from Tokyo POW Camp (Shinjuku).
Carmichael retired from the U. S. Air Force (USAF) as a Major General. He passed away on April 14, 1983. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 30, site 874-RH.
World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Richard H. Carmichael
KennethNWalker - Photos by George Strock, LIFE Magazine October 15, 1942
USAF - Major General Richard Henry Carmichael
FindAGrave - Gen Richard Henry Carmichael (photo, grave photo)
Do you have photos or additional information to add?