Beginning around noon on November 12th 1944, 12 Kamikaze Zeros attacked a merchant convoy at Leyte Gulf. Aboard the SS Thomas Nelson, Carlton would have been waiting for lunch in the number 4 hold (aft) along with other 345th BG men (they were waiting to disembark as the BG was moving forward, mostly groundscrew but also some aircrew). A Zero slipped through the light anti-aircraft fire and made contact with the rigging and deck of the ship before tumbling into the ocean. On contact, the Zero's fuel tanks were ruptured and poured flaming gasoline all along the aft portion of the ship. There were over 100 345th men killed aboard that day.
An account of what occurred can be read on this site:
Edit: It looks like the SS Morrison R Waite (also hit by a Kamikaze) was caring 345th men as well, so he could have been on either ship. (Though per the below it looks like the Waite had the 499th and 501st Squadrons aboard.)
Edited by AustinO, 18 February 2019 - 10:47 AM.