Pre-World War IIWhile in Shanghai in 1932, Carter ran away from home and joined the Chinese Nationalist Army fighting against invading Japanese during the Shanghai Incident. He eventually had to leave the Nationalist Army because he was only 15. He eventually made his way to Europe and joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, which was an American volunteer unit supporting the Spanish Loyalists fighting against General Francisco Franco's regime during the Spanish Civil War.
U.S. ArmyCarter had entered the Army on September 26, 1941. As a result of his previous combat experience, he stood out among the other recruits. In less than a year, he had achieved the rank of staff sergeant.
He was member of a unique type of organization — the Seventh Army Infantry Company Number 1 (Provisional), 56th Armored Infantry Battalion, 12th Armored Division near Speyer, Germany.
The provisional companies generally were established during, and in the wake of, the Battle of the Bulge, which took place during the winter of 1944-1945. Black support and combat-support soldiers, and some whites, were allowed to volunteer for combat duty and were given training in small-unit tactics. Formed into provisional units, they were used to augment depleted divisions.
On March 23, 1945, Carter, a 28-year-old infantry staff sergeant, heroically acted when the tank on which he was riding was hit by bazooka fire. Dismounted, Carter led three soldiers across an open field. In the process, two of the men were killed and the other seriously wounded.
Carter continued alone and was wounded five times before being forced to take cover.
Eight German soldiers tried to capture him, but he killed six and captured the remaining two. He used the two captured Germans as a shield from enemy fire as he recrossed the field. His prisoners provided valuable information on enemy-troop disposition for his unit.
Carter was refused re-enlistment in Army in 1949 because of unfounded allegations that, as a result of his affiliation with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and a Welcome Home Joe Dinner, he had communist contacts and allegiances. He died of lung cancer on January 30, 1963, in the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.