Robert Wayne Carlisle was born Oct. 24, 1923, in Venus, Texas to John B. Carlisle, a barber, and Maude Flatt Carlisle, a homemaker.
Venus lost more than 60 percent of its population during the Great Depression, and by the time of the January 1940 Census the family was living about 30 miles north-northwest in Dallas. Robert Carlisle attended Adamson High School and had completed his sophomore year by early 1940. His mother died of cancer that May.
He enlisted in the Navy on Nov. 27, 1940. Mr. Carlisle was a seaman first class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. Shortly before his death, he’d written home that something was about to happen.
At least one of his brothers, Joe, served in the Army Air Forces from Nov. 27, 1940 until Oct. 5, 1945.Another Adamson High student, Thomas Dick Neal, also died on the Arizona. He was almost four years older than Mr. Carlisle, and there’s no evidence they knew each other before they were assigned to the battleship. Dallas had four public high schools in 1940.
Sources: The Dallas Morning News; Census; Navy muster roll; Texas birth and death certificates; 1943 Adamson High yearbook; U.S. Veterans Affairs death file.