THE ODDS WERE AGAINST HIM
Our father George Andrew Carter was a tail gunner in the 449th Bomb Group and 718th squadron called “The Flying Horseman.”
Our Paternal Great, Great Grandfather Andrew L. Carter fought for the North in the Civil War. He was in charge of a company that took a important hill on the banks of the Mississippi by Vicksburg, Louisina. He survived numerous other battles and ended the war in Florida after they took Ft. Jackson there. We have his sign up sheet for the Civil War, which is now in a preserved frame. We also hit the archives in DC and got all the records for him and his son Andrew M. Carter who both served in the Civil War. It was pretty rough times.
Dad and his older brother Russell both signed up after watching a game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers and at halftime they announced that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. The next day they signed up. His older brother fought in the Army infantry at Guadacanal and he was later sent to the European Theatre. Uncle Russell could never talk about his experiences. It was too painful.
This is Dad’s service picture, with another after service and our family picture many years later. In the back row left to right is Andy, Josephine, myself, Marianne, Colleen and Dennis with our mother, Dorothy and Dad in the front.
Our dad flew 19 missions over numerous target areas in Germany, Italy and Romania. He was also part of the Ploesti raid “Operation Tidal Wave” which attempted to knock out Hitler’s oil fields in Ploesti Romania from flying in bases from Libya to Romania and back. They trained for this mission by flying in the Libyan Desert 15 feet off of the ground to train to avoid German radar. During the actual mission, he told me they were flying so low that there were corn stalks stuck in the Bombay doors. Upon arrival at Ploesti he told me that they had not fooled the Germans and avoided their radar and that the Germans had their 88s (anti-aircraft guns) pointed down directly in their flight path. Dad and I talked a lot about his experiences and while he was in the back of his plane bombing the Nazi oil fields and getting flak from weapons on the ground, he said the Tuskegee Airmen showed up in their planes and flew side by side next to his plane to keep them safe so they could bomb the oil fields. They waved at each other!
The initial planes had already dropped their bombs on the oil fields and there was a huge amount of smoke bellowing into the air from the previous bombers run. He stated they flew through the smoke and he saw a B-24 go right through a building with the fuselage cutting it wings off as the fuselage went in and came out the other side. They had to fight Romanian and German Messerscmidts ME-109s as well as Focke Wolf 190s going to the target and returning to the base. On this particular day 75% of the planes that left Libya did not return and 5 Medals of Honor were given to men on that mission. To this day there were more Medals of Honor given for one mission than in any other military engagement before or after (since) the mission.
I have many more stories of Dad and his missions. He told me that he always carried a strange sense of guilt because he knew they were dropping bombs on both military as well as civilian targets. But it had to be done…
After flying and fighting in the war, Dad always told us that the “odds were against him” and so he refused to fly after the war and until he passed away in 1994.
~ John Carter
I am very grateful to John Carter for sharing his father’s story with Comes A Soldier’s Whisper veteran tribute page. I knew Mr. George Carter, as he was the father of my classmate, Marianne Carter in Portage High School, Portage, Indiana. We graduated in 1969 with Randy Stanley, whose father, William Stanley, was a bombardier and flew 7 missions to Ploesti and was in the 719th squadron, one of the four squadrons in the 449th Bomb Group. Although they did not know each other they did fly in some of the same missions together. You can click here to watch William Stanley’s interview https://youtu.be/cPjwoBi4lvU
~ Jenny Tharp Lasala