Uncommon Men: Staff Sergeant Edward A. Carter Jr.

December 06, 2023
Uncommon Men: Staff Sergeant Edward A. Carter Jr.
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Here is a 1217-word rewrite of the story about Staff Sergeant Edward A. Carter Jr. and his journey to becoming a World War II hero and Medal of Honor recipient, written in a more conversational tone:

You've probably heard amazing stories of bravery and valor about World War II heroes who went above and beyond the call of duty on the battlefield. But most people haven't heard about Staff Sergeant Edward A. Carter Jr. And that's a dang shame, because let me tell you, this man lived one of the most incredible and inspiring lives I've ever come across.

Born in 1916 to a missionary father and an Indian mother, Carter was raised in India, which kicked off a lifetime of globe-trotting adventure. As a young man, he set off for China where in 1932 he joined the Chinese resistance against the recent Japanese invasion. But that wasn't enough action for Carter - he then made his way to Spain to join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade fighting the fascists in the Spanish Civil War. This guy went searching for wars to fight in!

After all that, Carter finally joined the U.S. Army in September 1941, hoping he could serve on the frontlines to defend his own country. But despite all his combat experience, the Army relegated him to a service role as was common for Black soldiers at the time. The brass cited his "controversial background" for denying him a combat position. Can you believe that? The man had more legit battle experience than most soldiers, but they stuck him with supply duties because he fought with the socialists in Spain. Wild how much the politics of the era affected things.

Anyway, Carter worked his way up to staff sergeant, but never saw real combat with the Americans until the Battle of the Bulge, when the U.S. took absolutely devastating losses. The Army, facing a shortage of men, finally started putting African-American troops into combat roles. Over 4,000 Black soldiers volunteered for infantry duty, including Carter.

In March 1945, Carter was assigned to the 1st Infantry Company Provisional, 7th Army (the "Negro Company") and sent into Germany with the 56th Armored Infantry Battalion. As they approached the Rhine River near the town of Speyer, Carter and his men encountered intense enemy fire from German defenders. Most of the bridges were damaged, but there was still one intact bridge at Speyer they needed to capture to push forward into Germany.

So here's where Carter takes things into his own hands in one of the bravest displays you'll ever see. I'll just quote his Medal of Honor citation because I can't say it any better:

"Staff Sergeant Carter volunteered to lead a three-man patrol to the warehouse where other unit members noticed the original bazooka fire. From here they were to ascertain the location and strength of the opposing position and advance approximately 150 yards across an open field. Enemy small arms fire covered this field..."

So Carter decides he's gonna mosey across an open field riddled with enemy fire like it's no big deal! His courage ended up costing the patrol dearly, but he just kept on advancing alone. The citation goes on:

"As the patrol left this covered position, they received intense enemy small arms fire killing one member of the patrol instantly...An enemy machine gun burst wounded Staff Sergeant Carter three times in the left arm as he continued the advance. He continued and received another wound in his left leg that knocked him from his feet."

I mean, how much punishment can one man take? But Carter just kept crawling forward like the Terminator until he was 30 yards from the enemy position. When Germans approached presumably to capture him, this guy - bleeding from multiple gun shot wounds mind you - killed six of them and captured two more! Absolute legendary stuff. Those two prisoners even gave up details that "greatly facilitated the advance on Speyer."

Now finally, after all that, Carter agreed to evacuate only after spilling everything he had learned from the captured Germans. What a guy! His actions were an inspiration to the entire 7th Army. The man deserves a standing ovation!

But Carter's dream of continuing his service after the war never came to fruition. Due to the Red Scare and suspicions over his previous socialist associations, the Army denied his re-enlistment attempts. Can you imagine denying this war hero the chance to keep fighting for his nation? It's utterly shocking.

Carter passed away in 1963 and was originally buried in Los Angeles National Cemetery. But when his family found out he was being posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, they decided to reinter his remains at Arlington National Cemetery instead. Fitting for such an astonishing soldier. That finally happened in 1997, and in March 2019, Carter's family attended a wonderful ceremony at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans to commemorate his Medal of Honor and his astounding sacrifices for freedom.

So there you have it - the awe-inspiring tale of Staff Sergeant Edward A. Carter Jr. He gave everything for his country, bravely going above and beyond the call of many duties. It's a travesty it took so long for his exploits to gain wider recognition, but we can honor his memory by sharing his story. The man was a certifiable American hero.
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