Arthur Schuyler Carpender was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on October 24, 1884, son of John Neilson and Anna Neilson (Kemp) Carpender. He attended St. Pauls School, Concord, New Hampshire, and Rutgers Preparatory School in New Brunswick, before his appointment to the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, by the Honorable John Kean, Senator from New Jersey, in 1904.
Graduated on June 6, 1908, he served the two years at sea, then required by law, before he was commissioned Ensign on June 6, 1910. He subsequently attained the rank of Vice Admiral to date from April 3, 1945, having served in that rank (temporary) from September 4, 1942 to January 3, 1944. On November 1, 1946 he was transferred to the Retired List of the US Navy and advanced to the rank of Admiral in recognition of combat awards.
Following graduation from the Naval Academy in 1908, he joined USS Minnesota, one of the battleships of the US Fleet which the late President Theodore Roosevelt sent on the famous world cruise (1907-1909). Transferred in June 1909, to USS Marietta, he remained in that vessel until March 1911. He assisted in the fitting out of USS Utah, and reported aboard when she was commissioned, August 31, 1911. During his service in the Utah, which extended to August 1914, he was assigned additional duty, during the summer of 1911, in connection with cruises of the Naval Militia of Maryland and Minnesota. In April 1914 he was Adjutant of the First Regiment of Bluejackets at Vera Cruz, during the Mexican Campaign.
Assigned to the Office of Naval Militia Affairs, Navy Department, Washington DC, he remained there until June 1916, after which he had fitting out duty in USS Davis at the Bath (Maine) Iron Works. After the commissioning of the Davis on October 5, 1916, he served aboard until March 1917. He then assumed command of USS Fanning which was credited with sinking the first German submarine by the United States Navy in World War I.
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and cited as follows: “For exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility as Commanding Officer of USS Fanning, engaged in the important, exacting and hazardous duty of patrolling the waters infested with enemy submarines and mines, in escorting and protecting vitally important convoys of troops and supplies through these waters, and in offensive and defensive action, vigorously and unremittingly prosecuted against all forms of enemy naval activity; and especially for an engagement on November 17, 1917, with the German Submarine U-58, as a result of which the submarine was forced to come to the surface and surrender.”
Relieved of command of the Fanning in December 1917, he reported as Aide to the Commander Destroyer Flotillas Operating in European Waters. In August 1918 he was ordered to the Newport News (Virginia) Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, where USS Radford was building, and assumed command of that destroyer upon her commissioning, September 30, 1918. When relieved in April 1919, he returned to the United States.
During his service, which extended to July 1921, at the Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Illinois, he was assigned additional duty as a Member of the Naval Examining Board and as Judge Advocate General of the General Court Martial. On August 1, 1921, he assumed command of USS Maddox, and detached in June 1922, reported for submarine training at the Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut. Upon completion of instruction in October of that year, he was ordered to Asiatic Station to command Submarine Division Fourteen.
Between August 1923 and December 1925 he served in the Bureau of Navigation, Navy Department, after which he had duty afloat as Executive Officer of USS Pittsburgh. Detached from that cruiser on October 1, 1926, he was assigned until March 1927 to the Receiving Ship, New York, New York. He commanded USS MacDonough for a year, and after a tour of duty until June 1931 in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, he served for two years as Executive Officer of USS Omaha.
Completing a course of instruction at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, in May 1934, he returned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, for duty until June 1936. He then joined the staff of Commander Destroyers, Scouting Force as Chief of Staff and Aide, and on August 14, 1937, assumed command of USS Northampton.
Returning to the United States, he reported in February 1938 as Professor of Naval Science and Tactics, Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Unit, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. Detached in September 1939, he was ordered to the Eleventh Naval District, San Diego, California, where Destroyer Squadron Thirty-two was fitting out. From its commissioning on September 30, 1939 until September 1940, he commanded that squadron and later briefly commanded Destroyer Squadron Thirty One.
He was assigned to the Bureau of Navigation, Navy Department, as Director of Officer Personnel, and immediately following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, December 7, 1941, he was ordered to sea as Commander Destroyers, U. S. Atlantic Fleet. In September 1942 he reported as Commander Southwest Pacific Force and Allied Naval Forces, Southwest Pacific Area. “For exceptionally meritorious service . . . .” in that capacity from September 11, 1942 to November 26, 1943, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by the Army, and the Legion of Merit by the Navy. The citations follow in part:
Disginguished Service Medal (Army) – “. . . . . Vice Admiral Carpender coordinated all Naval activities of both the United States and Allied Forces, utilizing to the utmost advantage the limited resources available . . . . . His forces engaged initially in containing operations and subsequently in both naval and amphibious offensive operations with marked effectiveness in spite of limited means. Vice Admiral Carpender made an invaluable contribution to the success of the campaigns in the Southwest Pacific Area during this critical period.”
Legion of Merit: “. . . . . Displaying the highest qualities of judgement, leadership, and initiative throughout a vitally important period of enemy activities, (he) employed the forces under his command with such proficient skill that many difficult operations were successfully accomplished and many important areas were effectually liberated from Japanese occupation.”
He served between January 1944 and March 1946, as Commandant of the Ninth Naval District, with headquarters at Great Lakes, Illinois. “For . . . . . outstanding services . . . . . as Commandant of the Ninth Naval District, from January 3, 1944, to August 31, 1945 . . . . .” he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the Second Legion of Merit. The citation continues in part: “In accomplishing the efficient coordination and administration of the Ninth Naval District, comprising 13 states, Vice Admiral Carpender exhibited outstanding aggressiveness and administrative ability . . . . .”
On April 1, 1946 he was appointed Coordinator of Public Relations in the Executive Office of the Secretary of Navy, and in that capacity was charged with coordinating and executing the policies of the Navy in all matters related to Public Relations.
He was transferred to the Retired List of the US Navy on November 1, 1946.
In addition to the Distinguished Service Medal (Navy), the Distinguished Service Medal (Army), and the Legion of Merit with Gold Star, Admiral Carpender has the Mexican Service Medal; the World War I Victory Medal, Destroyer Clasp; the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; the American Campaign Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal. He has also been awarded the following foreign decorations: the Distinguished Service Order and the Order of the British Empire (Commander of the Military Division) by the Government of Great Britain and the Order of Orange Nassau (Rank of Grand Officer) by the Government of the Netherlands.
He died January 10, 1960.