Marion Carl spent much of his life outracing death in a fighter plane.
He led World War II air battles at Midway and Guadalcanal, where he survived being shot down. Then he became a test pilot and flew higher and faster than anyone before him. In his 50s, the fighter ace returned to combat in Vietnam.This is how retired Maj. Gen. Carl died: He was shot in the head Sunday night by a robber who kicked in the door of his home and demanded cash from his wife.
"It's a hell of a way to lose a great American hero," said retired Marine Col. Denis J. Keily, spokesman for the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation in Pensacola, Fla. "I guess it's a statement of our times."
Authorities on Monday issued a warrant for the arrest of Jesse Stuart Fanus, a 19-year-old from the area who has a record of arrests on charges including drunken driving, burglary and criminal trespass.
Sheriff's deputies said Carl, 82, was in bed and his wife, Edna, was up reading when a young man wearing wraparound sunglasses, holding a shotgun and accompanied by a German shepherd burst through the side door and demanded car keys and money.
Carl was shot when he walked into the room, and Edna Carl was grazed in the head but not seriously hurt.
The man took $200 to $400 in cash and drove off in their car, but abandoned it 10 miles away. A patrolman found the dog walking nearby.
"It appears to be totally random - random and irrational and not thought out," sheriff's Detective Joe Perkins said.
Sheriff's deputies staked out known haunts of Fanus after a tip he may have been involved.
Carl's flying exploits spanned from World War II to Vietnam, in a career that included 18.5 aerial victories.
In 1942, the Oregon native became the first Marine fighter ace, downing three Japanese bombers and a fighter plane over Guadalcanal. He ended his stint at Guadalcanal with 11.5 combat aircraft destroyed, according to the National Museum of Naval Aviation.
In one dogfight, his shot-up Wildcat fighter went down off the coast of Guadalcanal. His official Marine biography says he was "losing his battle to swim ashore against the tide, when he was picked up by friendly natives in a canoe. After five days with the natives, he finally made his way back to his base."
After the war, Carl became a Navy test pilot, setting a world speed record of 651 mph on Aug. 25, 1947, at Muroc Field, now Edwards Air Force Base, in California.