George S. Carter Sr., Gunner
18th SOS, Nakhon Phanom, Bien Hoa, and Da Nang, 1972
Born George Samuel Carter in Chicago in 1951. My hometown is Pekin, Illinois. I graduated from Escambia High School in Pensacola, Florida and then graduated from Pensacola Junior College in 1971 and again in 1978. Because I had a low draft lottery number and wanted to make the Air Force my career, I joined the USAF on 20 June 1971. I separated from the Air Force in June 1976 and then re-enlisted in December 1982. I graduated from Fairleigh Dickenson University in 2000. I retired from active duty Chief Master Sergeant at Little Rock AFB on 1 March 2005. I was the last enlisted AC-119 person to retire. Stinger Steve Mac Isaac moderated my retirement lunch and spoke at the ceremony. What an honor it was for me! Two months later, Major General Metcalf was the last AC-119 gunshipper to retire.
I was a Stinger gunner with the 18th SOS at NKP, Bien Hoa, and Da Nang. The most exciting combat mission I experienced occurred on 3 November 1972. First Lieutenant Steve MacIsaac was aircraft commander and we were working with Sun Dog Alpha at Nui Ba Dien Mountain. We were ready to RTB when a call came in for emergency support. The enemy had breached the outer perimeter and was about to breech the inner perimeter of a friendly outpost. The camp was on the side of the mountain with a cliff behind it. It was not a typical target. The ground commander was notified of the difficulty of shooting at the target but he said to go ahead and try. If we did nothing, the enemy would breach the perimeter fence, overrun the camp, and kill everyone. He wanted us to at least try. Lt. Mac Isaac rolled in on the target, over the very strong objection of the navigator. We poured it on and the enemy retreated into the jungle. The next morning, many enemy troops were found dead in the concertina wire and among the trees. Many blood trails lead from the fences to the jungle. There were no American casualties. Stinger saved the day!
Another mission involved moving a Vietnamese village to a new location. We were tasked to “shoot-up-the-area” along the planned evacuation route to hopefully scare away any VC. We started out at 4500’ altitude, then dropped to 3500’, and then down to 2500’ due to bad weather conditions. When the villagers started walking, we flew cover for them. Weather conditions would not allow the AC-130 gunships or helicopter gunships to provide cover. We provided cover as long as we could until we had to RTB due to low fuel. The next day, we found out from Intel that about one hour after we left the villagers, the VC attacked the villagers and killed almost everyone. The villagers were old men, women, and children. The massacre was a typical example of VC brutality that was never reported by the press.
I’ll always remember the close camaraderie and sense of purpose among the Stinger men of the 18th SOS. We all wanted to make a difference in the war.