Captain Robert A. Carpenter, USN (ret) biography follows:
Captain Robert A. Carpenter, USN (ret)
July 23, 1941 – February 2, 2021
Robert Alphonsus Carpenter was born in Windsor, Ontario on July 23, 1941. Bob grew up in New Jersey, and graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1963. After graduation he attended Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI, and was commissioned Ensign, USNR in February 1964. Upon completion of Officer Candidate School he was assigned to the staff of Commander Task Force 43 and deployed to New Zealand and the Antarctic, earning the Antarctic Service Medal. He was then assigned to the Naval Radio Station at Thurso, Scotland.
After promotion to Lieutenant he received orders to the Defense Language Institute West Coast in Monterey, California, where he studied Russian, graduating in 1968. From 1969 to 1972 he served as Analysis and Reporting Officer and High Frequency Direction Finding Officer at Rota, Spain, his first assignment with the Naval Security Group. While assigned to Rota he also deployed as a cryptologic direct support officer in surface ships and submarines assigned to the Sixth Fleet. During this tour his designator was changed to Special Duty Officer-Cryptology (1615) and he was selected for promotion to Lieutenant Commander.
His Rota experience was put to good use during his next tour on the staff of Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet; where he served as the Cryptologic Fleet Support Officer and Plans and Requirement Officer. Upon completing this tour he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal.
In 1975 he was reassigned to Naval Security Group Activity, Misawa Japan, as Fleet Support Officer, serving in this capacity until 1977, when he was reassigned to the Pentagon where he served as the Program and Budget Coordinator in OP-944, then the Electronic Warfare and Cryptology Division. For his service in OP-944 received a second award of the Navy Commendation Medal. During this tour he was also promoted to Commander.
From 1980 to 1981 Commander Carpenter attended the National War College, and following graduation he was assigned to the staff of Commander-in-Chief, Naval Forces Europe in London, England, where he served as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Cryptology/Deputy Director Naval Security Group Europe. While in London he completed his Masters Degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California (London Program). At the end of this tour he received the Meritorious Service Medal.
In February 1984 he reported to Naval Security Group Headquarters in Washington, DC. After promotion to Captain in July 1985, he assumed command of the Naval Security Group Support Activity in January 1986. At the completion of this tour in August 1987 he received his first Legion of Merit and orders to Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, Virginia.
While in Norfolk Captain Carpenter wore a number of hats, including Director for Cryptology (N8), Director Naval Security Group Atlantic, Officer-in-Charge, Cryptologic Support Group, and Officer-in-Charge, NSGD Norfolk. In January 1989 he received an additional duty as Director for Cryptology, U.S.
Atlantic Command, and yet another in August 1989 when he was designated NSA/CSS Representative to LANTCOM. In recognition for his service during this tour Captain Carpenter received his second Legion of Merit upon transfer in July of 1990.
Captain Carpenter completed his twilight tour in Washington, DC, serving with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and retired in August of 1994.
Bob Carpenter married Carol McGreevy of Park Ridge, NJ. Together they had two children, Anne and Tito. Carol passed away several years ago, and Bob left us February 2, 2021, too soon at age 79. His obituary, recently published in the Washington Post, provided the following profile:
“The Navy took Bob and his late wife Carol to rural Japan, the highlands of Scotland, California, the Spanish Coast, Norfolk, and London. Bob found poetry sustaining, Calvados and Armagnac illuminating, Notre Dame football rarely good enough, and family a pleasure. He was a world-class giver of advice when solicited but used surprisingly few words when giving it. Faith was very important but also absent for decades in the middle of his life. He laughed easily and as much with his eyes as his mouth. He had an easy generosity that drew all sorts of people to him though it’s not clear that he was aware how remarkable it was.”
Internment is scheduled April 19, 2021 in Arlington National Cemetery.
1964 Commander Task Force 43 (Operation Deep Freeze)
1966 Thurso, Scotland
1968 Defense Language Institute West Coast, Monterey, CA (Russian Basic)
1969 1972 NSG Department, NCS Rota, Spain
1972 1975 CLF N8 Fleet Support Officer/Plans and Requirements Officer
1975 1977 NSGA Misawa Fleet Support Officer
1977 1979 OP-944
1980 1981 National War College, Fort McNair, VA CNE as Deputy N-8/Dep DNSG EUR
1984 1985 CNSG at NSS, Washington, DC
1986 1987 CO, NSGSA, Washington, DC
1987 1990 CLF N-8/DNSG LANT
1990 1994 OSD Washington, DC (Twilight tour)
Legion of Merit (with Gold Star)
Meritorious Service Medal
Navy Commendation Medal (with Gold Star)
Editor’s note: I was fortunate to have served with Captain Carpenter on two occasions, the first as a junior CTI1 assigned to Misawa’s Fleet Support Division, and the second time as a LCDR assigned to the CINCLANTFLT N-8. He was one of the most professional, yet easiest to work for, of the many officers I served under during my 22 year career with the NSG. RIP, Captain, we have the watch.
By LCDR Robert E. Morrison, USN, Ret