Major Charles Carpenter made headlines during the Second World War when he affixed six bazookas to his tiny Piper L-4 observation plane and began attacking German tanks. “Bazooka Charlie” and his plane “Rosie the Rocketer” were profiled in a variety of military and civilian publications, including the iconic Stars & Stripes. The major was a high school educator in the civilian world, teaching history and coaching football. Carpenter was talented, highly intelligent, and athletically gifted, but the war truly tested him. In 1945, the dashing pilot was forced out of the cockpit and into a hospital bed by Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which was discovered in his neck. In addition to the enemy and terminal cancer, Carpenter also battled cynicism and guilt, particularly in regard to the state of his marriage, which was on the brink of failure by the time he returned home from Europe.
Charles Carpenter died in 1966, having resumed his career, salvaged his marriage, and long outlived the timeline afforded him by his doctors in the initial prognosis. This revealing biography of the famous pilot was made possible through the collaboration of noted aviation author and magazine editor Jim Busha, and Carpenter’s daughter, Carol Apacki. Along with memories of her father in his postwar years, Carol provided a treasure trove of wartime correspondence between Charles and his wife, Elda Carpenter.