Hon. Samuel J. Carroll, III
Military Leader – Judge
Samuel J. Carroll, III was born December 2, 1946, in Greenville, Mississippi to Samuel Jacob Carroll, II and Laura Blount Carroll. From this small Mississippi Delta town, Carroll’s influence as a military and judicial leader would be large.
After graduating from Greenville High School in 1965, he enrolled at the University of Mississippi where he earned the Bachelor of Arts degree in English, in 1969. Sam began his education for a military career while in graduate school at Mississippi State University where he was in the Reserve Officer Training Corps. In 1974, he earned the Master of Education degree in Guidance Education and received his commission as an officer in the United States Army.
Upon graduation, he attended the Infantry Officers Basic Course and Airborne Training at Fort Benning, Georgia, followed by the Tactical and Strategic Intelligence Officers course at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. He then served the 1st Battalion of the 501st Infantry as a Platoon Leader and Battalion Intelligence and Security Officer, followed by flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. He was then assigned to Fort Hood as an attack helicopter section leader, platoon leader and troop operations officer. In 1981, Captain Carroll attended the Military Intelligence Advance Course, followed by Fixed Wing Qualification. In June 1982, he was assigned to the 73rd Combat Intelligence Company, an aerial surveillance unit as Executive Officer and Operations Officer. In October of 1984, he became the Training and Operations Officer for the 2nd Military Intelligence Battalion.
Among his other military leadership roles, he commanded the 330th Electronic Warfare Aviation Company, in Ecterdingen, Germany, providing key intelligence support to tactical commanders in Western Europe. His second command was the B Company 2nd Military Intelligence Battalion, an Aerial Exploitation unit, also based in Germany. He flew missions in the Grumman QV-1 Mohawk, an armed military observation and attack aircraft designed for battlefield surveillance.
From Germany, he moved to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to attend the Command and General Staff College. Returning to Fort Hood in 1987, he worked in military intelligence operations, culminating as Executive Officer of the Combat Electronic Warfare Intelligence Battalion.
In 1989, Major Carroll moved to West Texas A&M where he served as Department Chairman and Professor of Military Science, as well as ROTC Battalion Commander. Next, he became Battalion Commander and Professor of Military Science at HSU, supervising the ROTC programs in this region, which included Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene Christian University, McMurry University and Howard Payne University.
In 1994, while at Hardin Simmons, he earned a second master’s degree – this time in Counseling and Human Development. In 1995, Lieutenant Colonel Carroll retired from his distinguished 25-year military career.
Among many awards, Carroll’s decorations include the Army Commendation Medal with Three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Army Achievement Medal.
At a time when others would rest, Sam pursued yet another career in the legal field.
He attended the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, earning his Juris Doctor degree in 1998 and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1999. He returned to Abilene as an Assistant District Attorney for eleven years, during which he was elected President of the Abilene Bar Association.
With the encouragement of others, he pursued elective office as a judge. In November of 2010, he was elected Judge of the Taylor County Court at Law #2. After re-election in 2014, he faithfully served until his untimely death in a tragic bicycle accident on August 6, 2015, while participating in the Tour de Gap Bike-A-Thon benefiting the Abilene Food Bank. He is interred at the Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Abilene.
Judge Carroll was highly respected for his deep commitment to the rule of law, and for his beliefs that no one is above the law, and everyone is equal under the law.
The love of his life was his wife, Grace Ann, whom he married in 1992. Their mutual support and devotion to each other were exemplary. Special joys of his life were daughter, Laura, and grandsons, Jacob Henry and Zachary Hagen.
For his distinguished service as an exemplary military leader, devoted public servant and judge, it is a high honor for Hardin-Simmons University to induct one of its outstanding graduates, the Honorable Samuel J. Carroll III, into the HSU Hall of Leaders.