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Obituaries > CARLSON, WILLIAM H.

Lt. William H. Carlson of Cohoes, Methodist preacher who turned down a chaplaincy to become what war correspondents called one of the “fightingest men” in the Marine Corps, was killed June 5 [1945] on Okinawa.

Carlson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Iver Carlson of 5 Bridge Avenue, Cohoes, caught the attention of war correspondents when they found him conducting church services for the Marines between terrific battle attacks which he led. They sent numerous cabled dispatches about him. He was killed on the day that the last such dispatch appeared in this newspaper.

The dispatch said that he had led the first Marine unit to hit the beach on Oroku Peninsula which is on Okinawa’s west coast below Naha. He was quoted as saying that the going was “pretty bumpy coming over the reefs.”

Previous dispatches told how he had led the Marines up 1,500-foot Mt. [Yae-Take] on Okinawa in a final violent push which gained the crest and held it. War corespondents said, “This preacher packs a terrific punch when he goes into battle.”

Lieutenant Carlson was born in Cohoes 26 years ago. He attended Cohoes High School and was graduated from Troy Country Day School and Wesleyan University, the latter in 1940. He was then a lay preacher in the Methodist Church. He enrolled in divinity school at Denver, Col., and became student pastor of a small Methodist church on the outskirts of that city.

When war was declared he had completed two years of divinity school and had one more year before ordination. He enlisted in the Marine Corps on July 1, 1942, and was commissioned in less than a year. He was serving on Okinawa with the Sixth Division of the Marine Corps.

Time and again on Okinawa, war correspondents related, he had led terrific hand to hand combat. After the battle was won, the correspondents would find him conducting prayer services in the foxholes.

He is survived by his parents and a brother, E. Iver Carlson of Allentown, Pa. His family last saw him in San Diego, Cal., before he went overseas many months ago.