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Herbert Carter

Academic administrator and Tuskegee Airman Herbert E. Carter was born on September 27, 1919 in Amory, Mississippi to parents Willie Ann Sykes Carter and George Washington Carter. He graduated from Tuskegee High School in 1941 and went on to join the United States Army in July of 1942 as a member of the 99th pursuit unit, which was one of the units that became known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

While in World War II, he flew seventy-seven combat missions against the German and Italian Air Force in the Northern Africa, Sicilian Italian and European campaigns. The 99th Squadron achieved the outstanding record in Close Tactical Ground Support of the Allied Army. After the war ended, Carter went on to receive his B.S. degree in industrial education in 1955 from Tuskegee University and his M.A. degree in administration and supervision in 1969.

Carter retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force after twenty-six years of commissioned service in 1969. After his retirement, he served at Tuskegee University as Associate Dean of Student Services and Administration until 1985, and continued to visit troops who were deployed overseas.

On June 6, 2006, Carter received the Chevalier Legion of Honor, France’s highest honor and most prestigious award. The award was presented to him by Jacques Chirac, former President of the French Republic, for his outstanding service during the liberation of France during World War II. In March 2007, President George W. Bush honored the Tuskegee Airmen with the Congressional Gold Medal.

Carter passed away on November 8, 2012 at age 93.

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Academic administrator and tuskegee airman Herbert Carter (1919 - 2012 ) flew seventy-seven combat missions with the 99th Fighter Squadron, against the German and Italian Air Force in the Northern Africa, Sicilian Italian and European campaigns of World War II. He received the Chevalier Legion of Honor, France’s highest and most prestigious award for his service during World War II. Carter also served as Associate Dean of Student Services and Administration at Tuskegee University, between 1969 and 1985.


United States Air Force

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Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Herbert Carter's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Herbert Carter lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Herbert Carter describes his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Herbert Carter describes his grandparents and ancestors

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Herbert Carter describes his childhood in Alabama and Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Herbert Carter describes his community in Amory, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Herbert Carter describes his early family life

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Herbert Carter remembers moving to Tuskegee, Alabama to attend high school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Herbert Carter remembers growing up during the Great Depression

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Herbert Carter remembers Tuskegee Institute High School in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Herbert Carter recalls his studies at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Herbert Carter remembers meeting his wife at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Herbert Carter remembers joining the U.S. Army as a commissioned officer

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Herbert Carter remembers his flight missions during World War II, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Herbert Carter remembers his flight missions during World War II, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Herbert Carter describes his career path after World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Herbert Carter reflects on the brotherhood of his fellow Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Herbert Carter remembers his fellow Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Herbert Carter recalls Charles Edward McGee and Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Herbert Carter remembers General Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Herbert Carter describes his duties in the U.S. Air Force after World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Herbert Carter recalls retiring from the U.S. Air Force to become a professor

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Herbert Carter describes his work recruiting youth for aerospace careers

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Herbert Carter describes the operations of the 99th Pursuit Squadron

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Herbert Carter reflects upon the honors he received as a Tuskegee Airman

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Herbert Carter shares his message to future generations

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Herbert Carter describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Herbert Carter describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Herbert Carter narrates his photographs







Herbert Carter remembers his flight missions during World War II, pt. 2
Herbert Carter describes his work recruiting youth for aerospace careers
Up to now the myth was that the black man didn't have the agility, the dexterity, physiological or psychological ability to operate something as complicated as an aircraft due to his birth heritage and his cultural background. But these men there over in Anzio [Italy] including myself, demonstrated that race, creed or color has nothing to do with one's ability, if they are properly trained and given an opportunity to demonstrate their training, and this we did. And as a result of that we now have three more squadrons that have been trained in America and they were sent to Italy, so we have the 99th [99th Pursuit Squadron], the 100th [100th Fighter Squadron], the 301st [301st Fighter Squadron] and the 302nd [302nd Fighter Squadron], and which made up the 332nd Fighter Group [332nd Expeditionary Operations Group]. Not only that, but we get a new airplane, the P-47 [Republic P-47 Thunderbolt], and we get a new mission, which was escorting long range bombers which were coming out of North Africa and southern Italy going into southern Europe, bombing logistical targets, oil refineries, manufacturing plants. One mission was 1600 miles from Burma to Italy, Italy to Berlin [Germany], and back, to escort bombers who were going to bomb the Daimler-Benz tank factory there in Berlin. And by now we're flying P-51s [North American Aviation P-51 Mustang], that's the Mustang that everybody fell in love with because it was a top-notch fighter. And in escorting those bombers, the men were so good at protecting them that the bombers started referring to them as the Red-Tail Angels, and that was because for identification we had decided to paint the tails of all fifty-two--all seventy-two of those P-51s red and we were--our symbol was the Red Tails so the bomber pilots called us the Red-Tail Angels. And by war's end, we had destroyed some four hundred German aircraft, 150 or so in the air, another 250 on the ground. We had lost sixty-six men, another thirty-three had been shot down but taken prisoners of war, but we got them back after the war [World War II, WWII] was over. The men had earned some 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, nearly seven hundred and something air medals and all other such type medals for their performance and proficiency in combat, and Colonel Davis [Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.], by now, had been promoted to a full colonel.$Besides working as an associate dean, I know that you visited troops, different troops. Want to talk about that?$$Well that's what I've been doing primarily, just before retiring from the university [Tuskegee Institute; Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama] and since retiring, since '85 [1985] up until now.$$Until now, okay (laughter).$$I spend my time trying to inspire and motivate our young people toward aerospace careers, giving them examples of success stories of people who did make that choice and who have done well in it, and what are the advantages and some of the spinoffs. And then trying to help them prepare themselves to be able to make that decision by suggesting that they have to start at least by middle school and take their math and their science and stay academically active and involved if they are going to be successful in this life. And then trying to stay abreast of all the opportunities that are out there for them to help them financially with scholarships and whatever else they might need to get into college, or to get admitted to one of the academies where it won't cost them anything. And I get a great amount of satisfaction when I, four years from a date, see some young person that I know that I had something to do with their decision to, one, pursue an aerospace career and second, that they have finished, they have their degree and they have their rank, or they went to the Air Force Academy [United States Air Force Academy, Colorado] or they went to West Point [United States Military Academy, West Point, New York], and I influenced them in some way toward a [U.S.] military career. And that's what I do now, for my own satisfaction and pleasure.