Brother: Vietnam veteran would be ‘proud’ to have Middletown road named in his honor

The brother of a Vietnam veteran who was killed 51 years ago said attending the bill signing in Columbus that designated part of a local state route be named after his brother was the a special experience.

“Incredible,” said Middletown’s Robert Carpenter, 65, whose brother, Charles E. “Buck” Carpenter, an Army Green Beret, was on his third tour of duty when he was killed by small-arms fire during a conflict in 1969. He was 27.

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State Sen. Steve Wilson, R-Lebanon, Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, and more than 35 Ohio families were present for the ceremony when the bill was signed last week by Gov. Mike DeWine, including Carpenter and two of his nieces, Karen and Terri.

“These road designations ensure that both of their legacies live on forever in each of their hometowns and also serve as a reminder for us to recognize the bravery of all men and women who protect our freedom,” Wilson said.

The bill was amended in the Senate Transportation Committee last year to include other road designations throughout the state.

A portion of Ohio 122 will be named the SFC Charles E. Carpenter Highway and a portion of Ohio 63 will be named the SFC John E. Conger, Jr. Memorial Highway.

The stretch of Ohio 122 to be named in memory of Carpenter runs from Wicoff Street to Towne Boulevard and crosses the Butler-Warren county line. Carpenter lived in Warren County when he enlisted, but his brother said the family always called Middletown and Madison Twp. home.

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Carpenter said his brother would be “proud” to have a road renamed in his honor.

“He was a tough soldier,” he said of his brother, who stood 5-foot-3-inches.

Conger was determined to be missing in action on Jan. 27, 1969 after his unit came under attack by machine gun fire during a search and destroy mission. Conger reportedly tried to take out the enemy machine gun nest when he was wounded in the neck and shoulder.

He could not be reached due to the machine gun fire, and the Army changed his status to presumed dead in 1978.

There were 10 boys and five girls in the Carpenter family and eight of them served in the military, said Robert Carpenter. His brother was the only one killed in the service.

Carpenter was an eighth-grader at Madison Junior High School when his brother was killed.

“Remember it like it was yesterday,” he said.

The family lived on a farm and after getting off the school bus, Carpenter, 15 at the time, opened the gate that confined the cows. A Butler County sheriff deputy then pulled down the lane and told Carpenter to leave the gate open. The deputy sped down the gravel road toward the farm house.

“I knew something had happened,” Carpenter said.

As Carpenter neared the house, he saw as his father was handed a telegraph from the deputy.

“He dropped to his knees,” he said of his father’s reaction.

The telegraph said Carpenter was killed by friendly fire, but another telegraph, delivered later by the Army, said he was killed in small-arms fire.

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