James Benham Carter was born in Ozark, Arkansas, on
December 28, 1896. He attended Ozark High School and Hendrix College, Conway,
Arkansas (class of 1918) before entering the US Naval Academy, Annapolis,
Maryland, on senatorial appointment from Arkansas in June, 1916. He had World
War I service as a midshipman aboard USS Arizona during the summer of 1917,
and in USS Kansas in 1918, both battleships operating with the Atlantic Fleet.
Graduated and commissioned Ensign on June 7, 1919, he attained the rank of
Captain to date from June 18, 1942. He was appointed Commodore for temporary
service, to rank from November 10, 1944, reverting to Captain in December,
1945. When transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on June 30, 1949, he was
again advanced to Commodore.
Following his graduation in 1919, he remained at the
Naval Academy on duty in the Executive Department, and reported on October 2,
1919 for temporary duty aboard USS Connecticut. Transferred several weeks
later, he served in USS Minnesota, flagship of Division 4, Battle Squadron
2, Atlantic Fleet, based on Norfolk, Virginia until May 3, 1920. He then
reported to the Navy Yard, New York, New York, for duty in connection with
fitting out USS Tennessee. When that battleship was commissioned on June 3,
1920, he had duty aboard until August 24, 1921. He next reported to USS
Texas for a tour of almost two years. On July 5, 1923, he reported for duty in
connection with fitting out the cruiser Raleigh at the Bethlehem Shipbuilding
Corporation, Quincy, Massachusetts and served from her commissioning, February
6, 1924 until the following December.
Reporting on December 8, 1923, for duty at the Naval
Air Station, Lakehurst, New Jersey, he subsequently qualified as Naval Aviator
(lighter-than-air) on March 10, 1927, and was ordered to duty aboard the
dirigible Los Angeles as one of her pilots from May 17, 1927, with additional
duty at Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, until December 8, 1928. He next served
for two and one half years with Destroyer Squadrons, Asiatic Station, having
consecutive duty aboard the flagship USS Black Hawk, the USS Barker, USS
Pillsbury, and USS Edsall. He participated in the Yangtze River valley
operations while attached to the latter destroyer in 1931.
A tour of duty at the Naval Observatory, Washington,
DC from August, 1931 until May, 1933, was followed by two years served as
Aide and Flag Secretary on the staff of Commander, base Force, US Fleet, in
USS Argonne, flagship. Relieved of staff duty, he reported on March 16,
1934 to the USS Tennessee for duty as her Assistant Engineer Officer, serving
from June, 1935 until June, 1936. On July, 25, 1936 he reported to the Georgia
School of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, in connection with the Naval Reserve
Officers Training Corps Unit, and served in that assignment until June 8, 1939.
He served as Commanding Officer of USS Reid,
operating with Destroyers, Battle Force, until May 29, 1941, when he had orders
to the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, for instruction. He completed
the command course there in December, 1941 and remained to serve on the staff
of that College until June, 1943. Ordered then to report to the
Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, he served first as naval member of the war
Plans Division, and later, in the rank of Commodore, as Assistant Chief of
Staff for Operations. He was awarded the Legion of Merit, the citation stating:
“ For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding
service on the Staff of the Commander-in-Chief, United States Pacific Fleet and
pacific Ocean Areas, from July 20, 1943 to September 1, 1945… He demonstrated
outstanding professional ability and perception in the preparation of plans and
broad directives covering propaganda and psychological warfare and in
coordinating requirements for Naval surface forces and assault shipping… and
exercised excellent judgement and efficiency in discharging his vital
responsibility for coordination of operations…”
Returning to the United States and reverting in rank
to Captain in December, 1945, he assumed command of the USS Los Angeles,
cruiser, and served in that command until September, 1946. He then had orders
transferring him to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy
Department, Washington, DC, where he was Assistant Strategic Plans Officer.
He was again assigned duty on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific
Feet, as Assistant Chief of Staff for plans, serving in that duty from December,
1947 until relieved of active duty and transferred to the Retired List of the
Navy, effective June 30, 1949.
In addition to the Legion of Merit, Commodore Carter
has the Victory Medal, Escort Clasp (USS Kansas); the Yangtze Service Medal
(USS Edsall); the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp (USS Reid); the
American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War
II Victory Medal.
He died April 1, 1985.