Dover legend remembered
By Master Sgt. Montrell L. Jones, 436th Security Forces Squadron
/ Published February 05, 2019
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- You do not have to look far to find African Americans who are engrained in Dover Air Force Base’s history. Many of us drive by the mortuary daily but don’t know the story of Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations. The facility was originally named in honor of Charles C. Carson, not only because of his contributions to the Air Force but because he was one of us - a member of Team Dover.
Carson began his career in the Department of the Air Force in 1958 as a civilian mortician at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. During the Vietnam conflict, his area of responsibility spanned the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong. He also oversaw contracts in New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia.
Carson came to Dover AFB in 1970 as a mortuary inspector, but his leadership ability was quickly recognized, resulting in a promotion to Chief Mortuary Officer. He would be the face of the mortuary for the next 27 years. During this time, he supervised the mortuary through some of the most tragic events in United States history, to include the Space Shuttle Challenger catastrophe in 1986 and the Kohbar Towers bombing in 1996 in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
Carson was recognized many times over for his contributions to the Department of the Air Force and Dover AFB, and, on Jan. 4, 1991, he was honored by having a street named after him. Purple Heart Drive, which runs directly in front of AFMAO, was once known as Carson Drive.
Moreover, in the same month, he was also recognized by the Black Employment Program Subcommittee for his contributions to improving the quality of life for black Dover AFB civilian and military members.
Nothing sums up what Carson meant to Dover AFB than his owns words at his retirement on May 28, 1997: “In years to come, should anyone ask who was Charles C. Carson, I hope their answer will be, he was a man of integrity and competence, a man that touched the lives of thousands of bereaved families and expected nothing less than perfection in the care of human remains.”
So when you drive by the mortuary, remember Carson, who embedded himself in the ways of Dover AFB and helped shape how we do business. Carson passed on August 8, 2002, but will forever be remembered as one of us. Aim High; Dover Pride!