Faces From the Front for June 8, 2009 - Sgt. James H. Carter
Current Unit: 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division
Current Position: Line Medic
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Camp Liberty, Iraq
Hometown: St. Robert, Mo.
Years of Service: 3
Sgt. James H. Carter joined the Army three years ago as a medic. Now on his second deployment to Iraq, Carter says his experience this time around has been far different than his first tour in 2006.
The 33-year-old from St. Robert, Mo., served as a line medic in 2006, responsible for saving the lives of his fellow paratroopers during one of the most violent times in Iraq. Now a Noncommissioned Officer, Carter is responsible for teaching junior medics the lessons he has learned in the field and the responsibilities of the job.
"As an NCO, my role has changed in that now I am the teacher, and I try to incorporate realistic, tough training to prepare our medics for the great responsibility of being 'Doc'," he said.
Carter knows better than most that training focused on the conditions that medics will experience in the field is vital to their ability to save lives. Carter credits the realistic training he went through with giving him the skills to act quickly in response to an escort mission that came under attack during his first deployment.
On July 17, 2007, the members of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment were conducting an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) escort mission along a major supply route in Samarra, Iraq. During the patrol, a massive improvised explosive device detonated inside a culvert, throwing a US Navy EOD vehicle in the convoy high into the air. The vehicle landed on its side on fire, trapping three Navy EOD personnel inside.
As the medic assigned to the platoon, Carter had to act quickly. He risked his life by entering the burning vehicle multiple times to pull out the trapped personnel. Two of the EOD members were killed in the attack. However, Carter was able to save the third member of the team. Carter credits his fellow paratroopers for providing him with the protection necessary to provide medical care in such volatile conditions.
"They were right there with me pulling security while I worked to save lives," he said. "I owe a lot to them because I couldn't have done it on my own."
For his actions in Samarra, Carter was presented the Bronze Star Medal with valor device by Maj. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the 82nd Airborne Division Commander. Carter also was recently selected as the 3rd Brigade Combat Team's Medic of the Year during a board held in Baghdad.
Service has long been a tradition in Carter’s family. His father served in the Marine Corps and then the Army, serving two tours during the Vietnam conflict.