John T. Karlson

  • Ensign
  • WW I


Ensign John Theodore Karlson was born in Orange, Massachusetts on 4 June 1893.  He was the son of John Karlson and Johanna Kristiansdotter. He entered Rhode Island State College (RISC) in September 1913 with the class of 1917 majoring in Engineering.  He was active in Delta Alpha Phi and participated in the Army ROTC Program while a student.

When the United States entered World War I, there were 562 male students enrolled at Rhode Island State College; 334 left to serve in WW I. John, like so many of his classmates, departed college before he graduated.  John attended Ohio Northern University for a period of time before he enlisted in the US Navy.  He was initially assigned as a Cadet Engineer on the U.S.S. Turrialba.  Later, he was assigned as an Instructor of Naval Engineering on Training Ship U.S.S. Sturgeon Bay at Charlestown Navy Yard, Massachusetts.

While performing his duties, he became ill with the Spanish Influenza and was hospitalized.  Ensign John T. Karlson died from pneumonia on 5 March 1919.  A military funeral was held on 8 March 1919 at the Bethany Lutheran Church Cemetery, Orange, Massachusetts.  Ensign John Theodore Karlson, US Navy, answered the call to serve his nation with courage and honor during World War I.