I posted earlier about a letter my grandmother received after inquiring about Babe’s service in the army. She wrote to the adjutant general seeking information on June 6, 1945, and received a reply about 17 months after Babe died from Col. Charles D. Carle, who was the commander of the Records Administration Center in St. Louis, Mo.
On a whim, I googled Col. Carle and found out that he’s actually referenced quite a bit in a variety of publications. I expect that’s because a great many people received letters like the one my grandmother got. As it turns out, the man had an extensive military history—starting in WWI—and he started out as a journalist, just like me.
Starting at the end, however, Carle closed his career as the commander of the records center, where he was posted in December 1945, a few months after Babe died.
The location of the center on Goodfellow Boulevard in St. Louis is about 25 minutes from where I live today. The center is twice removed from that location today. At some point, the National Personnel Records Center moved to a location on Page Avenue in the St. Louis suburb of Overland, a little closer to where I live now.
That was the location of a massive fire in 1973 that destroyed between 16 million and 18 million military personnel files. The center has since moved to a new location in another St. Louis suburb, Spanish Lake, and it’s called the National Archives and Records Administration Center.
I found a newspaper article about Col. Carle’s retirement, which was a front-page story in the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Record. That’s the paper where he started his career. The story ends with Carle’s plans for his retirement; unfortunately, he didn’t get much of a chance to carry them out. As it turns out, he died just a few months later on Sept. 14, 1949.
Col. Charles D. Carle Ends 32 Years in Army
Former Record Reporter Retires After Heading Records Administration Center for 4 Years
Wilkes-Barre Record, July 2, 1949
Following an eye operation at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., Co. Charles Dayton Carle, formerly of Wilkes-Barre, was retired from the Regular Army on Thursday after more than 32 years continuous service.
Honoring his retirement Colonel Carle was invited by the Commanding General, Military District of Washington, to review a special parade of troops at Fort Myer, Va. He preferred, however, on the occasion of his retirement, to be with his own command—The Adjutant General’s Records Administration Center in St. Louis, Mo., probably the largest records depository in the United States, which he organized at the close of World War 2 and which he administered until his transfer to the hospital on April 30 of this year.
Colonel Carle entered the Army in 1917 at the start of World War 1. Then a reporter on the Wilkes-Barre Record, he enrolled in the first officers’ training camp at Madison Barracks, Sackett’s Harbor, N.Y., where, at the end of three months, he was commissioned a captain of infantry.
He was then sent to FortOglethorpe, Ga., to become an instructor at the second officers training camp established at Chickanaugua Park. There he trained more than 200 other candidates for military commissions, most of whom served in the European Theater of Operations. Then followed three years with the Third Infantry of the Regular Army at Eagle Pass, Texas and at Camp Sherman, Ohio.
In July 1920, Colonel Carle was integrated in the Regular Army, retaining his rank as captain.
In 1921-22 he attended the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga., and was then sent to Fort McKinley, Philippine Islands, where he commanded a company of native troops.
Returning to the United States at the end of 1924, Colonel Carle served four and one-half years as instructor to National Guard regiments in Colorado and Texas. In 1930 he was detailed by the War Department to Columbia University to pursue a special course in journalism, A three-year tour of duty with the 33rd Infantry at Fort Clayton, Canal Bone, followed.
On his return from Panama, he served for a short time with the 34th Infantry at Fort George G. Meade, Md., and was then detailed as supervisor of all Civilian Conservation Corps Camps in Western Maryland.
In December 1935, Colonel Carle, then a major, was selected to administer all Civilian Conservation Corps Camps in the Third Corps Area, which embraced the States of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Shortly after assuming this position, he was involved in an automobile accident that resulted in hospitalization lasting six months.
Upon his release from the hospital, Colonel Carle was detailed on the staff of the Command General, Third Corps Area, as Officer in Charge of Civilian Components Affairs. In this position, which he occupied for six years, he was charged with the administration of the Officers’ Reserve Corps, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and the Citizens Military Training Camps. In 1940 he was promoted to the grade of lieutenant colonel.
In September 1941, Colonel Carle was detailed to the Adjutant General’s Department and was sent to Omaha, Neb., where he became Adjutant General of the Seventh Service Command. In December 1941, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor he was promoted to the temporary grade of colonel.
In June 1942, Colonel Carle was called to Washington to assist in reorganizing the Publications Division of The Adjutant General’s Office to meet the prodigious problems involved in the printing and distribution of literature required in the administration and training of the war-time Army. Later he was made president of a board of officers, established to determine what military literature would or would not be published.
In the latter part of 1943, Colonel Carle was sent to Panama as Adjutant General of the Caribbean Defense Command. While serving in that capacity he compiled a series of 24 historical studies dealing with the international negotiations involved in the acquisition of Central and South American air bases and other military facilities required for hemisphere defense. He traveled extensively in Central and South America.
For these studies, which were used extensively for future strategic planning, Colonel Carle received the award of the Legion of Merit.
Upon his return to the United States in December 1945, Colonel Carl was selected by the Adjutant General to organize and command the Records Administration Center then being established in St. Louis to receive, store and service the tremendous volume of military records that were to pour in from all over the world.
The center currently employs over 3,000 Civil Service clerks and has an annual payroll of more than 10 million dollars. Enrollment has at times numbered more than 5,100. More than one and one-half million square feet of floor space are used for the storage of records.
In September 1947, Colonel Carle was placed in charge of five additional records depositories situated in New York, Atlanta, San Antonio, Columbus, Ohio, and Oakland, California. One year later he consolidated these regional depositories into a single establishment at Kansas City, Mo., now designed as the Kansas City Records Center.
Following his retirement, Colonel Carle will remain temporarily in St. Louis. He plans to travel extensively before establishing a permanent residence.