Memorializing A Hero: Capt. Carl Alfred

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kylie Barrow
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Veterans Day is known as a time to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. The observance of Veterans Day originated from World War I, also known as “The Great War,” when a ceasefire took effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, solidifying the memorialization of all veterans on November 11th.

This Veterans Day, the 4th Fighter Wing would like to take time to reflect on the sacrifices and impact of one specific Seymour Johnson Air Force Base veteran. Capt. Carl Alfred, 336th Fighter Squadron pilot, was killed in action during World War II while attacking grounded aircraft, a practice commonly known as strafing.

Alfred was just 27 years old when he embarked on his last mission. On April 16, 1945, he was charged with bringing the fight to the enemy one more time. Alfred’s aircraft was struck by flak while strafing German aircraft at Praha­-Kbely Airdrome, a small airfield in the Czech Republic used as a Prag-Rusin air base during WWII. Alfred lost radio communications and shortly after turning for home, his aircraft crashed into the ground 20 miles southeast of the airdrome. For these actions, and other honorable efforts taken throughout his career, Alfred earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, European ­African­ Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and a Purple Heart.

After almost 80 years, on September 16, 2023, Alfred was properly memorialized for his sacrifice during WWII in a small village south of Prague. This year, Capt. Antony “Cobra” Eby, 336th Fighter Squadron pilot, traveled to Czechia to represent the 4th Fighter Wing. In memory of Alfred, Eby spoke at his memorial to honor the veteran from his squadron who paved the way for the pilots that fly there today.

“The walls of our squadron are covered with pictures, names and news articles of those who have gone before us,” said Eby during his speech. “There are records of victories we scored throughout the wars and names of the men we lost.”

Eby recalls walking into work every day and being reminded of their squadron's history, stating the tradition of recounting the heroic actions of those before them in periodic roll calls and various ceremonies to honor the fallen.

While we remember Alfred by commemorating his achievements and honoring his ultimate sacrifice, we do the same for all veterans who have come before and after him.

“We live our lives in the footsteps of the giants that paved our paths, men like Captain Carl Alfred that fought to the very end.”