Skip to main content

William M. Carpenter papers

Identifier: MSC-346

Scope and Contents

This collection contains books, correspondence, membership cards, photographs, and writings relating to Captain William Milner Carpenter’s naval and civilian careers. The bulk of the collection documents Captain Carpenter’s naval service. Also represented are examples of his published writings in the fields of national security and piracy. His writings include articles he wrote for publication and books he helped edit. The collection also includes correspondence received by Verna Milner regarding Carpenter’s admittance into the United States Naval Academy.


  • Creation: 1934-2005
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1934-1964


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Access is open to all researchers, unless otherwise specified.

Conditions Governing Use

Material in this collection is in the public domain, unless otherwise noted.

Biographical note

Captain William Milner Carpenter (1916-2006), USN was born 13 November 1916 in Mooresville, Indiana to Denzel B. Carpenter and Mary E. (Milner) Carpenter. He married Mary Alice Comer and they had four children: Richard, Katherine, Suzanne, and John.

Carpenter attended the former Indiana Central College until he was accepted into the United States Naval Academy in 1936. Upon his graduation in 1940, he was assigned to the USS Oklahoma (BB-37) at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was subsequently assigned to the USS San Juan (CL-54) and served the rest of World War II in the Pacific theater. The San Juan entered Tokyo harbor after the Japanese surrender, and Carpenter served in Japan during the occupation.

In 1946, he received a master's degree in meteorology from the Naval Postgraduate School. He later took command of the USS Wadleigh (DD-689). Carpenter then became Associate Professor of Naval Science at the University of Rochester. In 1958, he was assigned to an anti-submarine task force aboard USS Wasp (CVS-18). He served next at the Pentagon in the CNO Politico-Military Affairs Office and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. One of his assignments during this period was to attend the Geneva Conference on Laos as a military adviser to Ambassador Averell Harriman.

In 1964, Carpenter took command of the Japan-based USS Castor (AKS-1). After that tour, he returned to the Pentagon. He retired from the Navy in 1966 after 26 years of active service.

For the next 30 years, Carpenter worked for SRI International as Assistant Director of the Strategic Studies Center and later as a consultant. He was also president of the American-Pacific Sealanes Security Institute. He published and taught seminars on Southeast Asian politics and international relations at the Quantico officer training school as well as other colleges and universities. He died 1 July 2006 in Stafford, Virginia.

Chronology of Naval Service note

Born in Mooresville, Indiana
Attended and graduated from U.S. Naval Academy
Commissioned as an Ensign
USS Oklahoma (BB-37)
USS San Juan (CL-54)
Promoted to Lieutenant Commander
Postgraduate School, U.S. Naval Academy
circa 1946-1951
Naval Weather Service
Promoted to Commander
CO, USS Wadleigh (DD-689)
circa 1955-1958
Associate Professor of Naval Science, University of Rochester
USS Wasp, Staff, Carrier Division 14 (Antisubmarine task force)
Promoted to Captain
circa 1959-1964
Pentagon, CNO Politico-Military Affairs Office (Asian Affairs) Office of the Assistant Sec. of Defense for International Security Affairs
CO, USS Castor (AKS-1)
circa 1965-1966
Retired from U.S. Navy
Died in Stafford, Virginia


2.29 Linear Feet (1 Hollinger box, 1 half Hollinger box, 1 oversized box)


Captain William Milner Carpenter (1916-2006) was a World War II Pacific theater veteran with 26 years of active service in the United States Navy. After his retirement he spent 30 years working and consulting for SRI International. This collection include books, correspondence, photographs, and writings relating to both his naval and civilian careers.


This collection is arranged in alphabetical order by genre.

Custodial History

Papers were in the custody of several family members following the death of Captain Carpenter in 2006. His daughter, Suzanna McKeen, gathered the papers and donated them in 2014.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Suzanne (Carpenter) McKeen on 22 November 2014. Ms.Ac.2014.46

Processing Information

This collection was initially processed by Scott Riley in 2015 and arranged into 7 boxes. In 2016 Robert Marchetta attempted to draft a finding aid and reprocess the collection to current archival standards. Elysia Hamelin completed the reprocessing and a DACS compliant finding aid in 2017.

Guide to the William M. Carpenter papers1934-2005 (bulk 1934-1964)
Dacs Finding Aid
Finding aid prepared by Elysia Hamelin, October 2017.
October 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Naval War College Archives Repository

US Naval War College
686 Cushing Rd
Newport RI 02841 US