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Original Tuskegee Airman Dies | Community Spirit

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Original Tuskegee Airman Dies
Original Tuskegee Airman Dies


The Montgomery Advertiser by Sebastian Kitchen

Retired Lt. Col. Herbert Carter, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen and one of the most active in promoting the legendary fighter pilots, died Thursday at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, according to Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford.

Ford said Carter was a local and a national hero.

Through their bravery and skill as World War II fighter pilots, the all-black Tuskegee Airmen are credited with not only taking part in winning the war, but in overcoming racial stereotypes and barriers. The fighter pilots’ mission was protecting bombers looking for trains or enemy troops to attack in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Germany.

Carter was one of the 33 original pilot trainees in the Tuskegee Airmen program, a member of the 99th Fighter Squadron and an aircraft maintenance supervisor.

Carter told the Montgomery
Advertiser in January that only four from that original group of 33 were left.

The Tuskegee Airmen were featured in the movie “Red Tails,” which opened earlier this year.

Carter was much in demand at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch during the years-long planning for the movie, according to his January interview with the Advertiser. Carter and several other Tuskegee Airmen spent three weeks, a week at a time, at Lucas’ California ranch, where he said Lucas and his staff made them feel like heroes.

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

Carter remained in the integrated Air Force after World War II. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1969. He became associate dean for student services at Tuskegee University and served in several other important capacities during his time there.

Carter worked to keep the Airmen in the public eye.

Earlier this year, Carter told the Advertiser that at age 93 he had cut back on some of his appearances, but he still spoke to officers and others throughout the nation, including a January stop at Maxwell Air Force Base’s Gunter Annex.

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

The January story said Carter had lost his appetite and lost weight. The reason could have been related to his wife, Mildred, dying three months earlier after an extended illness. They had been married for nearly 70 years.

Ford ordered flags in Tuskegee to be flown at half-staff as 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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