George F. Carter, a retired Army colonel who witnessed the Pearl Harbor attack as a young lieutenant, died of complications from a stroke Feb. 24 at the Oak Crest retirement center. The Timonium resident was 96.
Born in Oakland, Calif., he was the son of Thomas Carter and Louise Carrau Carter. He earned a bachelor's degree at St. Mary's College of California in Moraga, where he enlisted in Reserve Officers Training Corps.
He began his military service as a lieutenant and was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii. He told The Baltimore Sun in 1997 that he was dressing in Schofield Barracks for church "when I heard the noise — it was more than a roar — of a diving aircraft and then a big boom."
He witnessed the Japanese dive-bomb attack on Wheeler Field, a large base for fighter planes. After the Japanese planes came out of their dives, they strafed the barracks.
"We could see Pearl Harbor, but at first we didn't know what had happened there," Colonel Carter said in 1997. "The [battleship] Arizona burned for days. Seeing the ships burning was a real shock to me; I'd never seen a ship burn before. I had been on most of them, and I had personal friends on those ships.'"
Colonel Carter attended the 50th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack in 1991.
"My father remembered the attack like it was yesterday," said a son, Patrick Carter of Mays Chapel.
Colonel Carter initially remained in Hawaii to defend the islands. He later fought on Guadalcanal, New Georgia Island and in the campaign to liberate the Philippines.
After the war, while on an assignment to Fort Sam Houston, he met his future wife, the former Alice Pieper, a teacher. He was then ordered to the Pentagon as a member of the Army General Staff. He also attended the Army's language school in California where he learned Arabic and then served as a military attache from 1953 to 1956 at the American embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.
He graduated from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., and the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. He earned a master's degree in international affairs from George Washington University.
In 1961, he became chief of the operations section of the Army Pacific Staff in Hawaii. He was assigned three years later to Baltimore as the intelligence command's deputy chief of staff at Fort Holabird.
He retired in 1966 as a full colonel. His decorations included the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star.
After his military service, Colonel Carter joined Maryland National Bank and became the manager of its Mount Royal office.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Oak Crest Village Chapel, 8801 Walther Blvd. Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery.
In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 68 years, a retired Baltimore County teacher; five other sons, Kenneth Carter of Melbourne, Fla., Thomas Carter of Kensington, Michael Carter of San Diego, James Carter of Parkville and Andrew Carter of Harrisburg, Pa.; a daughter, Camille Reiser of Houston; 10 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Another son, Christopher Carter, died in 1955.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun