Howard W. Karbel


Howard W. Karbel

Lieutenant Colonel Howard William Karbel was commissioned an Infantry Officer upon graduation from Officer Candidate School Class # No. 3 - 41, 12 December 1941. His first duty assignment was Operations Officer, General Staff, with the 168th Infantry, Newburg, Oregon. | His subsequent duty assignments include: Adjutant S-1 1st Ranger Battalion, Carrickfergus, N. Ireland; Adjutant S-1 6615th Ranger Force Italy; Job title unknown, War Department, Washington, D.C.; General Staff (Lieutenant Colonel Karbel was with Colonel William 0. Darby in the Current Section at the Pentagon on 29 July 1944.); Job title unknown, Pacific Theatre (Lieutenant Colonel Karbel's U.S. Army Certificate of Service shows service in New Guinea, the Philippine Liberation and Okinawa); Job title unknown, Walter Reed General Hospital, Washington, D.C. | Records are not available for any other schools Lieutenant Colonel Karbel have attended. | His miliitary awards and decorations include: the Presidential Citation with Clusters, Silver Star, Bronze Star Medal with Arrowhead Legion of Merit Commendation Ribbon, Purple Heart Medal with Clusters, American Theater Service Medal, European Theater Service Medal, Italian Military Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal, World War II Victory Medal. | Lieutenant Colonel Karbel met and married Winifred (Mrs. Winifred M. Dean) almost ten years after he was separated from the Army. She said that he apparently did not save many military records, and most of those he did save were lost or destroyed over the years. The only photograph of him in uniform is the one published in Darby's Rangers when he was a captain. We have reconstructed his record with available information which is either official or from verifiable sources. Lieutenant Colonel Karbel served in both the European and Pacific Theaters during World War II, a sacrifice made by few other soldiers. He was in the thick of combat in the European theater, earning a Silver Star and a Bronze Star with Arrowhead (for participating in initial invasions). He advanced quickly, rising from second lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel in five years. He fought alongside then Lieutenant Colonel Darby in all campaigns and battles of the First, Third and Fourth Ranger Battalions in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, returning to the United States after the First and Third Ranger Battalions were destroyed at Cisterna. Lieutenant Colonel Darby was known to always be at the front of a battle, and his staff served alongside him. Accordingly, Lieutenant Colonel Karbel was wounded twice, in Tunisia ( 1943) and Italy ( 1944). The photograph of then Lieutenant Karbel and Lieutenant Colonel Darby on the cover of Newsweek in January 1943 places him in close proximity to Lieutenant Colonel Darby even when meeting senior officers like French General Giraud in North Africa. (re Att I & 2 ). Sources to verify his duty assignments are reliable, though not all are from military records. We do not know all of the exact assignment dates. The book Rangers in World War II, by Colonel Robert Black, is an accurate and detailed history of the Rangers. It specifies Karbel's Ranger assignments and their dates. Therefore, we know that he served as the first and only Adjutant ( S¬1) in Darby's First Ranger Battalion from the time of activation and also as S-1 in the Ranger Force which followed. When the surviving Rangers from Cisterna returned to the United States in May 1944, all three Battalions were disbanded. Colonel Darby joined the War Department General Staff in April 1944 and Major Karbel served with him in some staff capacity. A handwritten memo from Colonel Darby to then Captain James B. Lyle, a Ranger commander in three campaigns, states that Karbel was serving at the Pentagon in July 1944. James B. Lyle (Colonel retired, deceased ) was recognized by the OCS HOF in 1959, and was inducted posthumously into the Ranger HOF in 2003. He and Karbel were classmates in OCS Class 3-41. | From Lieutenant Colonel Karbel's obituary we learn that he was somehow involved in the organization of the 6th Ranger Battalion in the Pacific. His widow Winifred said that the Army asked Colonel Darby to help organize the 6th Ranger Battalion, but he kept requesting reassignment in Europe, which he eventually got. Winifred said that Colonel Darby nominated then Major Karbel to go in his place, which is how Karbel was assigned to the Pacific theater during World War II. (Darby was killed in action in Italy in 1945, and is the only officer in the United States Army to be promoted to Brigadier General posthumously.) (We do not know how long Lieutenant Colonel Karbel was hospitalized, but he suffered severe kidney problems which resulted in his separation from the Army on 20 October 1947 due to Physical Disability. He died in 1971 at the age of 57.) | Lieutenant Colonel Karbel's accomplishments in the Pacific indicate that he held a responsible position on the General Staff. Verification of this is the information from his obituary and the major article on the Philippine Liberation which he helped produce for Fortune magArizonaine. A letter to Karbel from the Fortune editor mentions that security concerns for the article would be handled by James Shepley, a war correspondent senior enough to be on General Marshall's staff. From this I believe it is safe to conclude that Lieutenant Colonel Karbel held a significant staff position in the Pacific theater. His widow, Winifred, said that Lieutenant Colonel Karbel wanted to make a career of the Army, but his health prevented it. For some reason he did not save many of his military records. She also said that he did not talk much about his military service, something very common with those who serve in combat. However, it is my firm belief that, when considering in its entirety all of Lieutenant Colonel Karbel's information attached to and summarized herein, there is ample support for his recognition for the OCS Hall of Fame. Lieutenant Colonel Karbel was an Administrative Officer who served his country well, and he brought great credit to the United States Army, the Infantry Branch, and the Army Rangers through his service.

Additional Information

Graduated From
Fort Benning, Georgia
Key Assignment
Adjutant S-1 1st Ranger Battalion, Carrickfergus, N. Ireland; Adjutant S-1 6615th Ranger Force Italy
Highest Award
Silver Star
Graduation Year
Year Inducted
Branch Of Service
Lieutenant Colonel

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