Edwin Hugh John Carns, born in New York City 22 May 1907, lost the battle to cancer at Letterman General Hospital, San Francisco, on 4 November 1979. He was laid to rest in the West Point Cemetery.
To all who knew him he was “Bat”—a very suitable nickname for a fine baseball player and athlete. As a cadet his constant cheerfulness and refreshing wit, while brightening the days of his classmates, occasionally landed him on the Area. Few of the prophecies made in our graduation HOWITZER came to pass, but in Bat’s case none could have been more foresighted than the prediction that there would be “high morale in every command that he enters.” How true! He was cheerful, optimistic and uncomplaining to the end.
Like many of his classmates Bat aspired to be an aviator in the Army Air Corps, but those ambitions were short-lived. (It remained for his eldest son, Michael, a member of the first class to graduate from the Air Force Academy, to attain that goal.) So, in late 1929 Bat reported to the 5th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Clark, Texas, where with his usual enthusiasm and energy, he soon became the dapper cavalryman thoroughly enjoying his life with troopers and horses. In 1933 he attended the Basic Course at The Cavalry School at Fort Riley, and remained on for the Advanced Course. He so excelled at horsemanship that he was chosen to be an instructor for the next four years. During those great days known as the “life of Riley” Bat won many equestrian trophies, but his greatest triumph was in winning Jeannette Anne (Jan) Chamberlain to be his bride on 23 December 1935.
In 1939 the Cams moved to West Point where Bat was an instructor in Cavalry tactics and equitation. Then came the disruptive era leading to the United States involvement in World War II and the Occupation and Cold War periods that followed. Bat had to give up his satisfying years with horses to participate in the development of the new Armored Forces at Headquarters, Army Ground Forces. From there he went to Europe as Chief of Staff of the 20th Armored Division, later commanding its Combat Command “B.” At war’s end he returned to the United States with the 20th, but only briefly to attend the Command and General Staff College before reverting to the Constabulary in Germany. Shortly thereafter he became G3 of the United States Forces in Austria in Vienna and a member of the Quadripartite Military Committee. Jan was among the first dependents permitted to join their husbands in occupied Europe.
Bat returned to the United States to attend the National War College, graduating in 1950 to serve five years in the Pentagon, mostly in the Secretariat of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Then followed consecutive assignments in Korea and Japan and promotion to major general in 1956. He must have derived great satisfaction when he took command of the 1st Cavalry Division, which he had joined as a new “shave tail” back in those long-ago days on the Mexican Border.
The next move was to Hawaii to serve as G3 of the United States Army Pacific. A brief tour with the Reserve Forces came in mid-1959 with station at Fort Lawton, Washington. Then back to the Pentagon; first, to serve with the Joint Strategic Survey Council of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; later as Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations on the Army Staff.
In April 1963 Bat became commander of the Army Training Center at Ford Ord, California. Bat’s usual charm and tact prevailed during his able administration of Ord, Camp Roberts and Hunter Liggett Military Reservation. Generous participation in civic activities and concern for community affairs endeared the Cams to a host of lasting friends in the area. Bat and Jan so enjoyed the Monterey Peninsula that there was no hesitancy in choosing it for their retirement home.
While Bat retired from active duty in 1905, he by no means lessened an active, challenging and useful life. For the first few years he was a full-time consultant to the prestigious Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park. He next undertook Directorship of Monterey’s Bi-Centennial—a position requiring not only organizational talent but skillful diplomacy as well. Bat had a great concern for the preservation of the unspoiled beauty of the Del Monte Forest while best satisfying the interests of its residents. Elected president of the Homeowners Association, he was persuasive and persistent in negotiating several agreements in furtherance of these worthy objectives. A grateful community has recognized him by creating “The Forest Fund” (in memory of Bat Carns) for open space maintenance and acquisition.
Throughout his career be personified the highest qualities of an officer, a gentleman and a concerned and responsible citizen. This he was to the end, and an enthusiastic sportsman, a devoted husband and a proud father, as well.
In addition to his adoring wife Jan, Bat leaves: a son, Michael, a colonel in the Air Force; Mary (Ismay), wife of a retired Navy captain; a second son, Edwin Hugh John Jr., a 1963 United States Military Academy graduate—an Infantry officer so wounded in Vietnam that he elected to become an Army Medical Officer; and a second daughter, Jeannette Anne (Lewis), wife of an Army lieutenant colonel—a heritage to all the military services.