By Jennifer Martin - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The Air Force did not exist yet when Joseph Carter enlisted in the armed forces back in 1941. So he entered service in the Army Air Corp.
"I had done some flying before the war and I love to fly and I wanted to be in the Air Force so I could shoot the big ole Germans," said Carter.
But he failed a vision test, eliminating flying from his future. So instead of flight school, he went to officer training school. "They weren't really trying to teach you anything, except they were trying to see if they could break you down," added Carter.
The program was so stiff, we had anywhere from 6-8 or 9 suicides per class. He graduated from OCS and was assigned to the 432nd Squadron, 17th Bomb Group, flying B26s.
"Actual training, I didn't get. They didn't teach us anything in OCS about how to be a Supply Officer, I just got to Barksdale Field and someone said you are the squadron supply officer --they call it on the job training," Carter recalled.
At Barksdale Field, Carter had the chance to ride in one of the bombers. He narrowly escaped tragedy when he tried to go up a second time.
"I was delayed about 5 minutes getting back and the plane took off without me. And less than two hours later, it crashed and killed everyone on board,"Carter added.
After training, Carter went to England, aboard the Queen Mary, where he had another close call during a collision with an escort ship.
"The cruiser zigzagged in front of our ship. Our ship hit the cruiser in the middle and cut it in half. There was at least 4,500 British Sailors drowned right before my eyes. After a couple of months in England, he moved on to Algeria," said Carter.
"At first, our whole group is only putting up about 20 planes to go in combat everyday and we're losing 1, 2, or 3. They were bombing the German front. It don't pay to have too many friends in the air crew, you'd need to make new friends too often," Carter added.
"When planes would get shot down and crews would be killed it was my duty to salvage their belongings pack it in a box to be returned to their families. I had to do quite a bit of that. We eventually moved our operation to Tunis. We stayed there several months until we had control of North Africa. Next, they moved on to Sardenia, in the Mediterranean," said Carter.
From there, he got a surprise trip home.
"The service had decided to send a few folks home to give the folks at home a treat to see live vet walking around. So I got to go home," recalled Carter. He got about a week's leave.
"There was lots of dining, dancing, liquor, and women," he laughed.
He spent the remainder of his service working in Ohio. After his discharge, Carter launched a successful home building business, which he ran until he retired.
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