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Sam Carsten
Fictional Character
Southern Victory
POD: September 10, 1862
Appearance(s): American Front
through
In at the Death
Type of Appearance: Direct POV
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: 1891
Occupation: Sailor
Military Branch: United States Navy

Sam Carsten (b. 1891) was an American sailor who joined the Navy in 1909, "right off the farm". He was a big slow-moving man, pale skinned with blond hair and blue eyes, and thus was prone to sunburn.[1] He served in the Navy during both the Great War[2] and the Second Great War[3] as well as the Pacific War.

Carsten had considerable intelligence and initiative. As he would be told much later in life, had he graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, he might have eventually become a brilliant admiral. However, Carsten's capacities went completely unnoticed at the time of his recruitment and for many years afterwards. He made use of them mainly for such purposes as finding ways to be idle on board while appearing to work, or perpetrating painful practical jokes on hated superiors without being found out.

At the start of the Great War, Carsten was a Seaman First Class aboard the USS Dakota cruising to attack the British at the Sandwich Islands.[4] He also volunteered for the manual assault on Fort William Rufus. That attack was successful as was the invasion itself and so the islands were easily captured from Britain.[5] He remained in the Sandwich Islands for some time and he also took part in the Battle of the Three Navies.

While on leave in the Sandwich Islands. Carsten had a casual conversation on the sea shore with a surfing Polynesian named John Liholiho, which turned out to be a decisive turning point in Carsten's life (and even more so, in Liholiho's life). Some of the terms he used led Carsten to suspect Liholiho of being a spy for the British. Carsten reported his suspicions, which were confirmed, and Liholiho was arrested and executed.

This manifestation of initiative and motivation - unusual for sailors on leave - led to Carsten being promoted to Petty Officer Third Class, and set him on the way to eventually becoming an officer and a ship's captain.

During the end of the war he was stationed in South America as his ship attempted to help cut off the flow of supplies from Britain's allies to the island nation itself. That mission succeeded once Brazil came into the war on the side of the Central Powers.

After the war ended Carsten, who was interested in aviation, began to serve on the U.S.S. Remembrance, the world's first airplane carrier. Ironically, he began his service in his sick bed, when he was sickened by the 1918 Flu Pandemic. Carsten was one of the lucky survivors. He spent some time on the Remembrance, patrolling the North Atlantic Ocean. He was with the ship when it made a friendly port-of-call to Ireland just as the northern Protestants rebelled against the new Republic. The Remembrance helped put down the rebellion by shelling and bombing Belfast.

Carsten was encouraged to take the officer's test and, to his surprise, passed on his first attempt. Then he was transferred to the destroyer USS O'Brien. Carsten served on that ship for some time before being transferred back to the Remembrance. He served on that ship when, in 1932, the ship was torpedoed in a surprise attack that kicked off the Pacific War. He fought on the Remembrance throughout the war and even earned a promotion to Lieutenant, Junior Grade. He continued to serve on the ship after the war and into the Second Great War. During that war he took part in the raid on Charleston, South Carolina that answered the Confederate bombing of Philadelphia which started the war. He also helped occupy the Sandwich islands and fought in the Battle of Midway. There the Remembrance was sunk, but Carsten lived because one of his superiors helped him get off in time.

After the battle Carsten was promoted to Full Lieutenant and was even given command of his own ship the destroyer escort, USS Josephus Daniels. On that boat he partook in many operations including, bombing Baja California, helping transport US marines in North Carolina, and helping stop the smuggling of arms by Britain into U.S.-occupied Canada. Eventually, he was sent to help insurrectionists in the Confederate state of Cuba and later Irish rebels, just as he (incorrectly) remembered being assigned during the Great War.

Carsten commanded the Josephus Daniels for the duration of the Second Great War. In late 1943, his ship was sent south of the equator to intercept Brazilian and Argentian ships carrying supplies for Britain. It was here that his resolve as a commander was tested, as his executive officer, Myron Zwilling, humiliated by a game of "King Neptune", banished sailors whom he'd felt had insulted him to captured Argentinian ships to serve as prize crews. Carsten confronted Zwilling, who admitted the motives for his actions. Carsten very tactfully suggested that Zwilling would be better elsewhere. While not a dramatic moment, Carsten's confident handling of this incident reflected quite well on him. Replacing Zwilling was Lieutenant Lon Menefee who served as X.O. for the remainder of the war.

At the end of the war, Carsten was promoted to lieutenant commander, and given the choice of serving the Sandwich Islands, or occupation duty of the Confederate coast. Carsten chose the latter. He was also flattered when a Naval board picked his brains on the international political situation, wanting his input on what the U.S. Navy would need to do in the post-war world.

Carsten contentedly served aboard the Josephus Daniels, realizing that at his age and as a mustang, he wasn't likely to rise above lieutenant commander. In 1945, he discovered that he'd scratched a mole on his skin until it bled, indicating he may have developed skin cancer due to his earlier sunburns at sea. With the state of medicine in 1945, this was most likely to kill him within a few years.

ReferencesEdit

  1. American Front, pg. 58, HC.
  2. The Great War trilogy, generally.
  3. Settling Accounts tetralogy generally.
  4. American Front, pgs. 58-63, HC.
  5. Ibid. pgs. 139-142.

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