Valor Friday

| November 13, 2020

Pfc Bruce W Carter

This week a Medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam War was reinterred at Arlington National Cemetery at the behest of his mother, who is now 90 years old. It seems from our research that when he was killed in action his mother had him buried near her home in Miami, Florida. For the last several years she was pushing to have him moved to rest with our other national heroes. He’s finally made the move.

Bruce Wayne Carter (awesome name makes an awesome man) was born in Schenectady, New York in 1950. He was then raised in Texas, Louisiana, and finally spent his junior high and high school years in Hialeah, Florida. He’d been active in the Boy Scouts, attaining the rank of Life Scout (the second highest rank, behind Eagle Scout).

Carter enlisted into the Marines a few months after his 18th birthday in 1968. Attending boot camp at Parris Island, he graduated as a United States Marine from the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion in October, 1968. He then had individual combat training as a rifleman at Camp LeJeune in the other Carolina.

The first day of 1969 Carter was promoted to private first class. He received some Vietnamese language training in Monterey, California.

By April he was in Vietnam as a radio man with Company H, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division. The Marines of 2/3 Marines had only months earlier been involved in the brutal fighting for the hills in the Khe Sahn Valley.

All three battalions of the 3rd Marines were involved in Operation Idaho Canyon from late July until the end of September. As part of this, Carter’s unit was moving through the jungles looking for the enemy on 7 September, 1969.

Unfortunately, they found the enemy. A lot of them. The roughly company-sized force of Marines came upon two companies of North Vietnamese Army (NVA).

The entrenched enemy seemed impervious to air and artillery strikes. The Marines repeatedly attacked, only to be repulsed, and they then faced NVA counterattacks. Air strikes were called in danger close to the Marine positions, including at least one napalm attack.

The napalm set off a brush fire, which separated the lead element of Carter’s squad from the main body. Carter and his comrades in the lead element were pinned down between the enemy and the brush fire, behind which were friendly forces firing in their direction.

Unable to move due to the crossfire, with the napalm-fueled blaze cutting the Marines off, Carter stood onto the field of battle, in full view of the enemy. With no thought for his own safety, he fired at the enemy. He unleashed holy hell on the NVA forces, laying down devastating fire into their positions.

The aggressiveness of Carter’s attack combined with the accuracy of his fire caused numerous enemy casualties, the survivors in the immediate area were forced to retreat.

Pfc Carter then got his men up and started calling out orders to direct them out of the path of the rapidly approaching fire and towards friendly lines.

It was then that an enemy grenade landed between him and his men. It was too far away to throw or kick back and too close to be ignored. Knowing full well that it would kill some of his Marines, Carter threw himself onto the grenade. He would have done so knowing that this would be his last act, as his body absorbed the full explosive blast from the grenade.

Bruce Carter was only 19 years old. He died displaying such indomitable courage, saving the lives of his fellow Marines for the second time in just the span of a few minutes.

Carter would posthumously receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery that day. Carter’s mother, Georgie Carter-Krell, would be given the medal on his behalf at a White House ceremony presided over by Vice President Spiro Agnew on 9 September, 1971. Carter-Krell has been an active member (and former president) of the American Gold Star Mothers.

Category: Historical, Marines, Medal of Honor, Valor, We Remember

14 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
MustangCryppie

Humbling to read of such courage.

RIP shipmate.

USAFRetired

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”

GS Patton

GBU Marine and comfort your mother.

AW1Ed

Hand Salute. Ready, Two!

Thanks again, Mason.

Green Thumb

Hardcore.

5th/77th FA

BZ PFC Bruce Wayne Carter USMC! “…no greater love…” Forever 19.

Battery Gun Salute…”PREPARE”….”FIRE!!!”

ninja

Mason: Thank You for sharing the news about PFC Carter’s final resting place at Arlington. It got a bit dusty when I read about his heroic action. 19 years old. Rest In Peace, Marine. Am sharing a bit about his loving Mom, who IMHO, is a Hero as well. Her Son lives through her. Salute to both PFC Bruce Carter and Georgie Carter-Krell. “Gold Star Mothers” https://americanprofile.com/articles/gold-star-mothers-greive-loss-of-military-children/ “Georgie Carter Krell was at home when two military officers knocked at her door. She knew immediately that her worst nightmare had come true.” “Her son Bruce, an adventurous 19-year-old who had joined the Marines two years earlier, had been killed in Vietnam when he threw himself on a grenade to save his comrades. He was buried on Aug. 25, 1969—his mother’s birthday—and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his final heroic act.” “Krell had never heard of Gold Star Mothers, a national organization of moms whose children have died while serving in the U.S. military, until she was invited to join by a neighbor who also lost a son in the Vietnam War. She resisted at first. “I wasn’t ready to,” says Krell, 77, of Miami, Fla., who gave in to her friend’s insistence a year later and signed up to attend a gathering.” “To her surprise, she made several lifelong friends in the Gold Star Mothers’ Miami chapter. “We understood each other,” says Krell, who is serving her second term as president of the Washington, D.C.-based group. “It was kind… Read more »

SFC D

PFC Carter was a better man at 19 than nearly any other adult man ever was or ever will be. Rest easy, Marine.

Hondo

Agreed.

UpNorth

Perfectly stated, SFC D.

Roh-Dog

I’m without the words currently. May a heartfelt ‘Thank you’ symbolize so much more.

Skyjumper

“Knowing full well that it would kill some of his Marines, Carter threw himself onto the grenade.”

Nineteen years old!!
A fair number of nineteen year olds in this day and age couldn’t find their ass even if you spotted them one cheek.

Semper Fi Marine PFC Bruce Wayne Carter.

Sparks

A man of courage…at only 19 years old. Rest in well deserved and honored peace, PFC Bruce Wayne Carter.

Thunderstixx

I’m constantly amazed when I read these stories of Men and Women doing the things they have done that result in this MOH Award.
Thank you for a job well done…
Godspeed Marine and God Bless your family.

Matthew W

Survival is one of our most base instincts.
How someone can be trained to self sacrifice is amazing.