Allene Carter's father-in-law was a decorated veteran. Yet it was not until the Carter family received a call from the White House that she discovered he was a heroic force in the Rhineland campaign. President Clinton awarded the Medal of Honor to several black soldiers who served in World War II. Sergeant Edward A. Carter Jr. was among the recipients. Shocked to learn the extent of Carter's service, Allene was determined to uncover both the truth about her father-in-law's wartime record and why his official recognition was so long in coming.
Here is the story not only of Sergeant Carter but also of his family's fight to restore his honor. Theirs is a journey that takes them from local veterans organizations to the office of the president and front pages of the national media. An important piece of American history, Honoring Sergeant Carter is an enduring story of determination and family love.
In 1936, Eddie Carter joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain, fighting in defense of the Republic. Following Franco's victory, Carter returned to America, married then volunteered when Pearl Harbor was bombed. His transportation unit finally went to Europe in 1944. When the front line ran short of white soldiers, the army asked black soldiers to volunteer for combat duty. Already a sergeant, Eddie volunteered, but was reduced in rank so he would be unable to command white troops. Attached to the 12th Armored Division, Carter entered combat at the German town of Speyer. When German resistance stiffened and endangered a race to secure a Rhine crossing, Carter singlehandedly wiped out enemy machine gun and mortar positions and took two prisoners, at the expense of being wounded many times. After the war, Carter was denied reenlistment privileges in the army, then dropped from the California National Guard. Why? His daughter-in-law Allene, using expert sleuthing skills, circumvented army stonewalling and eventually found that Carter had once innocently attended a postwar victory dinner that had been hosted by a Communist-affiliated society. He was spied on and secret files compiled. No black soldiers received Medals of Honor for their heroism in WWII, and in 1997 Pres. Bill Clinton awarded a Medal of Honor to Eddie's son Edward III (Eddie had died in 1963). The army later apologized, and Eddie's National Guard file was corrected. Sergeant Carter himself was saddened over his shoddy treatment when he had been wounded fighting for ideals that were denied to a significant segment of America's people. Allene's dogged determination to uncover the truth and correct the record is a proud testament to her background as a union activist.