Allan Carpenter was born in 1938 in Portland, Maine. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on September 27, 1955, and was commissioned through Officer Candidate School on August 17, 1962. After becoming a Naval Aviator in 1963 and going through Navy Justice School, Carpenter was assigned to the Replacement Air Group with VA-43 at NAS Oceana, Virginia, for transition training in the A-4 Skyhawk. He began flying combat missions in the A-4 with VA-72 from the USS Independence in 1965 and the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1966, and was forced to eject on August 21, 1966, after taking heavy battle damage and making it back to the vicinity of the carrier. He was rescued by the ship's helicopter and went back on flying status. Carpenter was shot down again over North Vietnam on November 1, 1966, while flying his 135th combat mission, and was taken as a Prisoner of War by the North Vietnamese for the next 2,315 days. After his release during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973, and hospitalization for 4 months afterward, Carpenter went back on flying status as an instrument flight instructor with VF-43 at NAS Oceana. This was followed by a tour in the College Degree Program at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, and his retirement from the Navy on December 31, 1978. Since his retirement, Allan has amassed almost 4,000 flying hours in ultralight and experimental aircraft. Al married Carolyn Malone in 1957 and they have 4 children.
His 1st (of 3) Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action on 1 November 1966 as a pilot serving with Attack Squadron SEVENTY-TWO, embarked in USS FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (CVA-42) during a mission in support of combat operations in Southeast Asia, Lieutenant Commander (then Lieutenant) Carpenter's mission was to provide missile suppression for a vital photographic-reconnaissance flight in an extremely well defended area of North Vietnam. When an enemy surface-to-air missile was launched against his flight, he immediately reacted with his own air-to-ground missile and, in the face of a solid barrage of light, medium, and heavy antiaircraft fire, followed his missile's track to the launching site to deliver a devastating rocket attack against the missile-guidance vans. Determined to inflict maximum destruction, Lieutenant Commander Carpenter skillfully directed additional attacks by his wingman against the enemy launching site, thereby significantly reducing the antiair threat in a major enemy complex, and assuring the successful completion of the photographic mission. His daring actions, inspiring leadership, and courageous devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.