Medal of Honor. Photo Credit: Netflix.

by Harrison Heller, Membership Coordinator

On November 9, Netflix premiered its new docuseries entitled Medal of Honor. The series shares the stories of eight veterans who served from World War II to the Global War on Terror. For season one, Medal of Honor features the stories of: SGT. Sylvester Antolak (WW2), SSGT. Clint Romesha (Afghanistan), SFC. Edward Carter (WW2), SSGT. Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura (Korea), MSG. Vito Bertoldo (WW2), CPL. Joseph Vittori (Korea), CMSGT. Richard L. Etchberger (Vietnam) and SSGT. Ty M. Carter (Afghanistan).

Each episode is an individual story and details “the worst day of their lives”. The stories are re-enacted and told by military historians, witnesses, and sometimes even the recipient. Medal of Honor shares some amazing stories about some of our nation’s bravest heroes. The stories of Staff Sergeants Clint Romesha and Ty Carter are from the same battle, a Taliban assault on Combat Outpost Keating. This is the first time since Vietnam that the Medal of Honor was awarded to two survivors of the same battle. Medal of Honor is a must watch and a must binge.

One story that truly stood out to me was that of Staff Sergeant Edward Carter, Jr. The child of an African American father and East Indian mother, Carter was raised in India and Shanghai, China. Carter’s parents were missionaries and were constantly on the move. Edward Carter was a born soldier. In 1932 he ran away from home to serve with the Chinese Nationalist Army. After it was discovered that he was only 15, he was forced to leave the Nationalist Army. A short time later, he found his way to Europe and served in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. The Lincoln Brigade was a group of American volunteers who served in the Spanish Civil War, which fought against the regime of General Francisco Franco.

In 1941, Edward Carter entered the Army. Due to his previous combat experience, Carter stood out among the other recruits and in less than year, he achieved the rank of staff sergeant. In 1944, he was deployed to Europe and was assigned to supply duties. General Eisenhower ran short of combat-arms replacements in December 1944 and instituted the volunteer Ground Force Replacement Command for rear-echelon soldiers of all races. At the height of Carter’s career, he served as one of General George S. Patton’s guards.

After months of volunteering, Carter’s platoon made it to the frontlines and was assigned to the “Mystery Division”. When Carter was assigned to this unit, he went from staff sergeant to a private. This was because his superiors would not allow an African American to command white troops. One thing to keep in mind, America was fighting one of the most racist regimes in world history, Nazi Germany, yet our own military was still segregated.

On March 23, 1945, while scouting with his platoon, the tank that was carrying Carter was hit by bazooka fire. Carter quickly dismounted,confronted his superior officer and asked to go across and examine a nearby open field, where he noticed a mortar crew and 2 machine gun nests. The officer first told him no, due to his rank. Carter replied that he held the rank of staff sergeant before going to the frontlines.

Carter entered the open field with three other African American troops. In the field, Carter was able to get a better view of the situation. He told his troops to run back and that he will continue forward. Two of his troops were killed and one was severely wounded. Carter continued deeper into the open field alone. He was wounded five times before taking cover. As eight German soldiers scan the field in an attempt to capture Carter, he sprung up and killed six Germans and captured two. While limping and using the two captured Germans as a shield, he was able to interrogate them. The Germans gave Carter valuable information on enemy-troop positions. For this Carter was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. He was also awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, American Defense Service Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, and many other citations and awards.

In 1949 Edward Carter tried to re-enlist in the Army. Due to unfounded allegations, as a result of his time serving with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, he was denied. They believed that he had communist contacts and allegiances. Carter died of lung cancer on January 30, 1963, attributed to shrapnel remaining in his neck. He was 47 years old. He was buried in Sawtelle National Cemetery in Los Angeles.

In 1992, John Shannon, Secretary of the Army, commissioned an independent study to identify unrecognized African American heroes from World War II. The study was completed in 1996, under the name “The Exclusion of Black Soldiers from the Medal of Honor in World War II.” On January 13, 1997, SSgt Edward Allen Carter, Jr’s Distinguished Service Cross was upgraded to the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton at a White House ceremony. SSgt Carter’s body was exhumed and relocated to Arlington National Cemetery, where he was laid to rest with full honors.

As part of the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, there is a hall dedicated to the many African Americans who served in the American armed forces from the American Revolution to current War on Terror. There is a section dedicated to African Americans who were awarded the Medal of Honor. On your next trip to Washington, DC, we recommend that you a make a stop at the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture. If you bring your Military ID, you can skip the line and enter without a reservation.

As the series Medal of Honor grows, it is the hope of the Jewish War Veterans that they include the stories of our Jewish heroes who were awarded this highest honor.

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018