Carlton Stanton stands while friends and Kenosha County Executive Samantha Kerkman sing “Happy Birthday” to him Friday at the American Heroes Café at Festival Foods in Kenosha. Stanton, who will turn 97 on April 25, is a member of Kenosha County’s dwindling population of World War II veterans.

Happy Birthday, Carlton Stanton! Kenosha World War II veteran turning 97 Tuesday

U.S. Navy vet celebrated at American Heroes Café


Kenosha County is located in the southeastern corner of the U.S. state of Wisconsin. Its population in 2019 was estimated to be 169,561, making it the eighth most populous county in Wisconsin. The county is named after the county seat, Kenosha, the fourth largest city in Wisconsin.

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. 

Fellow World War II veterans Carlton Stanton, left, and Tom Van Dahm pose for a photo at Friday’s American Heroes Café gathering at Festival Foods in Kenosha. The weekly event this week included a surprise celebration of Stanton’s 97th birthday. Van Dahm’s 99th birthday was celebrated at the café in February. 

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 Phiippines. 

“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.” 

World War II Navy veteran Carlton Stanton joins in a singalong at Friday’s American Heroes Café gathering at Festival Foods in Kenosha, flanked by fellow veterans Rick Bose and Dick Stader. 

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.” 

The cake served as part of a surprise celebration of World War II veteran Carlton Stanton’s 97th birthday.