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Obituary: Tuskegee Airman Herbert Carter dead at 95


Retired Col. Herbert E. Carter, a member of the original cadre of the 99th Fighter Squadron of the famed Tuskegee Airmen,  died last Thursday at East Alabama Medical Center. He was 95.

Carter flew combat missions during the North African, Sicilian, Italian and European campaigns of World War II.

“Col. Carter’s entire life was an inspiration to generations of students not only at Tuskegee University but also to youth and adults throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia,” said Tuskegee University President Gilbert L. Rochon. “He fought for freedom from tyranny internationally and for freedom from discrimination at home in America. His commitment to excellence and determination to succeed will set the standard for the next generations of Tuskegee Airmen.”

Carter also served as a professor of air science and commander of the Air Force ROTC Detachment 15 at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) from 1950 to 1955 and professor of aerospace studies from 1965 to 1969.

Carter earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1955 and a master’s degree in education in 1969 from Tuskegee Institute. After his retirement from the United States Air Force, he served at Tuskegee as assistant dean for student services and associate dean for admissions and recruiting.

“Col. Carter has left a great legacy,” said Kelly Primus, commander of the Tuskegee University Air Force ROTC.

Carter was one of several original Tuskegee Airmen who returned to Tuskegee University to celebrate the film premiere of “Red Tails” in January. Produced by George Lucas, the movie portrayed the experience of the airmen during World War II.

Primus said Carter remained a familiar figure on campus, even during his later years.

“He had spoken to our cadets numerous times about the Tuskegee Airmen’s plight and how they became the ‘best of the best,’” Primus said. “He also reminded them that, as future officers, they must portray the core values and continue to keep airmen’s legacy alive.”

Among Carter’s prestigious military decorations are: The Air Medal, four Clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation, European Theater Medal, five Bronze Stars, National Defense Medal, one Bronze Star and the Air Force Longevity Award, and five Oak Leaf Clusters.

On June 6, 2004, the president of the French Republic, Jacque Chirac, announced that Carter had been chosen for the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest civilian award. The award was for “outstanding service rendered France during the second World War.”

Carter was married for more than 60 years to Mildred L. Hemmons Carter, a pilot who was also counted among the Tuskegee Airmen. Mildred Carter died in October 2011.