Staff Sergeant Ty Michael Carter, USMC, USArmy, Medal of Honor
Staff Sergeant Ty Michael Carter, USMC, USArmy, Medal of Honor

BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D.  Ty Michael Carter was born in Spokane, Wash., in January 1980, and moved to California’s Bay Area in 1981. In 1991, his family moved back to Spokane, where he graduated from North Central High School.

 

Carter joined the Marines in 1998, spending five years in the service until a fight with a roommate led to his demotion. Two months later, he was honorably discharged.

 

So, it was back to civilian life, something that left Carter restless and bored. He bounced across the country from job to job: more than a dozen stints in five years, everything from a yacht repairman to a tow-truck operator.

 

He was supporting his daughter after his first marriage ended. But in every job, something was always missing.

 

“There was no motivation, there was no purpose,” Carter said. “It felt like I was a drone.”

He hated the punch-in-punch-out lifestyle of making ends meet, and fondly recalled military life. “I was thinking ‘Well man, back in the service … I was doing what I enjoyed and I was actually happy to wake up in the morning, happy to go to work,'” he said.

 

Carter enlisted in the Army in January 2008 as a cavalry scout. He completed a second Afghanistan deployment in October, and now is assigned to the 7th Infantry Division. He grew up in Spokane, Wash., and now calls Antioch, Calif., his home. He and his wife, Sharon, have three children: Jayden Young, Madison Carter, and Sehara Carter.

 

In May of 2009, Carter deployed for 12 months to Nuristan Province, Afghanistan. In October 2010, Carter was stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., and joined Alpha Troop, 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. In May 2012, he deployed to Kandahar City, Afghanistan.

President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter on Monday afternoon, making the cavalry scout only the fifth living service member from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan to receive the nation’s highest award for courage.

Carter, 33, appeared reflective and at times smiled bashfully as President Obama recognized him for his “conspicuous gallantry” in the dramatic Battle of Kamdesh, a day-long firefight with Taliban militants at a remote Afghan outpost near the Pakistan border.

Early in his remarks in the White House’s East Room, President Obama turned to Carter’s young children and said: “If you want to know what a true American hero looks like, then you don’t have to look too far.”

The quick-moving staff sergeant braved a blizzard of bullets to take out Taliban fighters and rescue a wounded brother-in-arms during the Oct. 3, 2009, clash, which left eight American soldiers dead and wounded more than 25 others, according to the Army’s official account of the event. It was the deadliest day for U.S. forces in the war effort that year.

“Without regard to his own safety, Ty Michael Carter proved himself time and time again,” according to the Army account.

“He resupplied ammunition to fighting positions, provided first aid to a battle buddy, killed enemy troops, and valiantly risked his own life to save a fellow soldier who was injured and pinned down by overwhelming fire” after Taliban militants slammed Combat Outpost Keating with rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, mortars and rifles, according to the Army.

Carter is currently stationed as a staff noncommissioned officer with the 7th Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He lives in Washington State with his wife, Shannon, and their three children.

In an interview with CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin, Carter described how he knew from the start that the outpost was a dangerous place to be.

“We kinda knew what was going to happen. We just didn’t know when,” he said. “We knew that the enemy would take advantage of the terrain and hit us hard.”

He explained that the terrain, surrounded by high mountains from which the enemy could shoot down on the outpost, was clearly undefendable.

“In my head I thought ‘you gotta be kidding me,'” he said. “You think of the military or the Army as being this huge force with the money to support and the intelligence and all the assets to give us the edge — this outpost, we didn’t have the edge.”

When the battle started, Carter ran from his bunk to a guard post, exposing himself to gunfire. “I knew that if I didn’t get to that position, to support that position — if a guard position does fall, then the perimeter falls and then the enemy enters,” he told Martin.

Carter was wounded in the battle but managed to provide accurate fire against enemy combatants under intense pressure. At one point, he carried his fellow soldier Spc. Stephan L. Mace to safety, putting down his own weapon and facing open fire to save Mace and provide life-extending first aid.

President Obama remarked Monday that the enduring image of the battle was of Carter picking up Mace and “carrying him through all those bullets.”

Mace later died from the wounds he incurred, which Carter told Martin left him “shattered.”

“The fact that either I didn’t get to him in time or I didn’t do the right thing made me believe that I had failed fully and completely,” he said.

After that moment, Carter started receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“I don’t like the ‘D’ on the end,” Carter told Martin. “I don’t believe in calling it a disorder. I believe that it’s your body and mind’s natural reaction to something traumatic… And if PT, post-traumatic stress is intense enough, it will affect your life. It will remove your ability to be happy and enjoy the company of your loved ones.”

President Obama commended Carter for speaking out about his struggle with post-traumatic stress and urged other soldiers to follow his lead.

“Let me say as clearly as I can…he is as tough as they come, and if he can find the courage to seek help, so can you,” he said. The president added that the nation must keep up its commitment to support those soldiers.

“Nobody should ever suffer alone,” he said. “And nobody should die waiting for the mental health care they need.”

Carter is now based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash., where he lives with his wife Shannon and three children. Earlier in life, he spent four years in the Marine Corps and attended college after his discharge. However, he found the transition back to civilian life difficult, so he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2008.

CITATION

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Specialist Ty M. Carter distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Scout with Bravo Troop, 3d Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, during combat operations against an armed enemy in Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on October 3, 2009.

On that morning, Specialist Carter and his comrades awakened to an attack of an estimated 300 enemy fighters occupying the high ground on all four sides of Combat Outpost Keating, employing concentrated fire from recoilless rifles, rocket propelled grenades, anti-aircraft machine guns, mortars and small arms fire. Specialist Carter reinforced a forward battle position, ran twice through a 100 meter gauntlet of enemy fire to resupply ammunition and voluntarily remained there to defend the isolated position. Armed with only an M4 carbine rifle, Specialist Carter placed accurate, deadly fire on the enemy, beating back the assault force and preventing the position from being overrun, over the course of several hours. With complete disregard for his own safety and in spite of his own wounds, he ran through a hail of enemy rocket propelled grenade and machine gun fire to rescue a critically wounded comrade who had been pinned down in an exposed position.

Specialist Carter rendered life extending first aid and carried the Soldier to cover. On his own initiative, Specialist Carter again maneuvered through enemy fire to check on a fallen Soldier and recovered the squad’s radio, which allowed them to coordinate their evacuation with fellow Soldiers. With teammates providing covering fire, Specialist Carter assisted in moving the wounded Soldier 100 meters through withering enemy fire to the aid station and before returning to the fight. Specialist Carter’s heroic actions and tactical skill were critical to the defense of Combat Outpost Keating, preventing the enemy from capturing the position and saving the lives of his fellow Soldiers. Specialist Ty M. Carter’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Bravo Troop, 3d Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and the United States Army.

 

//S// Barack Obama  President

Collage of Staff Sergeant Ty M. Carter Medal of Honor

The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external. Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.

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