Friday, November 9, 2012

Original Tuskegee Airmen is laid to rest

Retired Lt. Col. Herbert Carter, an original Tuskegee Airmen, died Thursday at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika. He was 95 years old. Montgomery Advertiser reports that Carter was one of only four from the original group of 33 fighter pilots still alive. He was also noted as one of the most vocal about the legacy of the African-American World War II pilots. These great African American pilots have been credited for their instrumental part in devouring racial barriers in the military, and helping to win the war. Their mission was protecting bombers as they tried to attack enemy troops.

Before retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1969, Carter continued to serve in the Air Force after the war ended. He later served as the associate dean for student services at Tuskegee University.

Carter enjoyed traveling and sharing stories about the Tuskegee Airmen. Along with the other Airmen he spent three weeks advising George Lucas during the pre-production of Red Tails, a film released earlier this year about the Airmen. He commented that the director made them feel like heroes.

“(Lucas) treated us right and fulfilled his promise to make a realistic movie,” Carter stated.

The film was released in January, at which time Carter decided to lessen his appearances for health reasons. However he still spoke at Maxwell Air Force Base’s Gunter Annex.

“It’s a thrill for him to do it,” Kurt Carter said about his father at that time. “He’s just honored to be asked. It recharges his batteries.”

As a result of his wife's death last year it is said that Carter's vitality began to decline, losing weight and his appetite.

Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford ordered flags to be flown at half-staff following Carter’s death. He added it was an “appropriate tribute to this national hero, who so valiantly fought fascism abroad and racism at home, and of whom all in Tuskegee are so justly proud.”

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