Carter’s Cross

submitted by: Alva Leon Matheson

Roger was in the process of writing up his story of the missions on which he rescued a trapped ground force and was the on scene commander for a successful SAR. Time caught up with him (something the enemy gunners could never do!!) last year and the story was never finished. Here is the citation to accompany the Air Force Cross awarded to Roger and some comments from fellow Nails.

Citation: Air Force Cross
CAPTAIN WILLIAM R. CARTER (then First Lieutenant) was awarded the Air Force Cross for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as a Forward Air Controller in Southeast Asia from 6 March 1971 to 7 March 1971. On those dates, Captain Carter flew his lightly armed observation aircraft into a heavily defended hostile area to aid in the rescue of seven crewmen. He also directed the pickup of another pilot and was instrumental in the extraction of a team of 97 men.
During this 36-hour ordeal, Captain Carter flew over 13 combat hours and directed 16 flights of fighter aircraft. After four unsuccessful rescue attempts the first day, Captain Carter returned to find the survivors out of food, water, and ammunition. Their capture appeared imminent. With complete disregard for his personal safety, and despite intense hostile fire which had destroyed three aircraft and severely damaged four others, Captain Carter strafed the enemy within 15 feet of the survivors.
When strike aircraft arrived, he directed them against hostile positions, When his supply of marking rockets had been expended, he continued to direct the fighters by making low passes and rocking his aircraft’s wings over enemy positions, exposing himself to a constant barrage of fire. Due to the courageous efforts of Captain Carter, all 104 men were brought out alive.
Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Captain Carter reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Comments from Fellow FACs
By Brad Wright Covey/Hammer 251
We were together during Lam Son 719. I am sure that we spoke and probably even had a beer together. I just don’t remember. As to the incident that earned him his AF Cross, well I can’t add anything about that.
What I do remember about Roger is that we all gave him grief about the way he always wore his weapon everywhere at Quang Tri. You see he wore a holster on his hip just like the cowboys on TV and in the movies. Now most of the rest of us wore our pistol in the holster on our survival vests and so would turn them in when we returned from a mission. Not Roger, he wore his everywhere. So, now I feel better having been able to at least contribute a bit of humor to remember a fallen comrade.
Rest in peace Roger! Hand Salute

By J. Pewthers Nail 28
I knew Roger Carter as well as anyone. He checked me out in the OV-10 and showed me how he fought the war and his pet do’s and don’ts on how to avoid the bullet with your name on it. He lived one or two rooms down from Dave Judson and myself. He also squared me away on the Ops officer and Squadron Commander of the 23rd Tass at the time I arrived. I can truthfully say the insights Roger gave me helped me to survive...
Little did I know he had no fear of anything in an OV-10 or in life for that matter. Since meeting and knowing Roger, I overcame fear.