A member of Kenosha County’s waning population of World War II veterans was honored on the eve of his 97th birthday Friday at the American Heroes Café at Festival Foods in Kenosha.
Carlton Stanton served in the U.S. Navy as a Morse code operator from May 1944 to May 1946, spending most of his enlisted time serving in the Philippines.
A native of Barnerville, N.Y., Stanton and his family moved to Kenosha in 1965 as he pursued his career in retail management for the Ben Franklin store chain. Stanton and his late wife, Dorthy, were married for 65 years and raised four children. He now also has six grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and five (soon to be six) great-grandchildren.
Stanton reflected on his World War II service in a 2021 interview in which he described his role as a radioman in the Philippines.
“All the time I was there, I never received a message in English, with one exception. That's when the war was over; I received a message in English. It was all coded messages. I would just sit there four hours at a time, copying code. We never knew what we were copying. As soon as we copied it, we handed it to a lieutenant behind us, and they decoded it. We never knew what it was.”
Today, Stanton is a regular attendee of the Heroes Café gatherings each Friday at Festival, and Friday’s celebration of his birthday — which is April 25 — came as a pleasant surprise.
Amid the celebration, Stanton received a commendation from state Sen. Robert Wirch and Rep. Tod Ohnstad, and a proclamation from County Executive Samantha Kerkman, who declared it Carlton Stanton Day in Kenosha County.
More than 77 years removed from the end of the war, Kenosha County Veterans Services Director Ali Nelson estimates there are fewer than 30 World War II veterans still living in Kenosha County.
“This is why it’s so important for us to take every day and celebrate every veteran that we have on their special day,” Kerkman said. “Carlton, thank you so much for your service to our country.”