Tuskegee Airman honored during ‘final mission’


TUSKEGEE, Ala. (November 16, 2012) — Tuskegee Airman retired Lt. Col. Herbert E. Carter was laid to rest Thursday after being honored at a memorial service at Tuskegee University. Hundreds filled the University Chapel to pay final respects to Carter, a Tuskegee alumnus, former professor and commander of the Air Force ROTC. Gilbert L. Rochon, president of Tuskegee University, hailed Carter as an integral part of the community and the institution’s legacy. 

“I would like to express our appreciation to the family of Lt. Col. Carter for gracing us on his final mission,” Rochon said. “We are truly honored and blessed to have him back home.”

Foundation of Civil Rights

Retired Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis, president of the Tuskegee, Ala. Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., shared memories of Carter as a maintenance engineering officer and aviator. He described Carter as an excellent “stick and rudder man” who would freely admit that his wife, Mildred, was an even better pilot. 

Dozens of men and women in uniform attended the service. Lewis said Carter would be pleased with the sight.

“As I see officers of all ranks and colors, Col. Carter would be most appreciative of seeing you here today,” Lewis said. “The Tuskegee Airmen were the foundation of the modern Civil Rights Movement.”

In her remarks, Carter’s daughter, Kay Carter DeMoss, described a loving father who taught by example. 

“He loved us better than we loved ourselves,” DeMoss said. “… He forgave our mistakes and encouraged us to forgive ourselves.”

Father Liston A. Garfield, pastor at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Tuskegee, Ala., delivered the homily for Carter. He praised the United States of America, but said there was still progress to be made. He said Carter once told him of his deep love for America, despite the nation’s shortcomings.

“He had a choice. He could have been an angry man, a bitter man,” Garfield said. “But, God moved him to strive for excellence.”

Carter was interred at Greenwood Cemetery in Tuskegee, Ala. after a graveside service and a fly-over by four F-16s in a missing man formation. 

© 2012 Tuskegee University

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