Herbert “Gene” Carter is a veteran World War II fighter pilot and a member of the original cadre of the Tuskegee Airman. Carter and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen shattered the widely held myth that blacks were not capable of serving their country in the arena of flight. He was born on 27 September 1919 in Amory, Mississippi. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. When World War II broke out, preparation began for the construction of an airfield at Tuskegee to support a new program in which the U.S. Army Air Corps would train black men to become pilots. He applied for the program, was accepted, and graduated as a member of the fourth class, Class 42-F.
Upon earning his pilot wings, Carter was sent overseas as the engineering officer with the original 99th Fighter Squadron. In April 1943, Carter was sent to Africa to become a part of the Desert Air Force. He logged 125 combat hours with 77 combat missions over Tunisia, Sicily, and Italy in the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk and Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. HHis unit, the 99th Fighter Squadron, and other squadrons of the 332d Fighter Group compiled an outstanding record of performance in tactical air and ground support of Allied Armies. They destroyed 17 German aircraft over Anzio Beach during the Allied Force’s invasion of Northern Italy. After the war, Carter was the aircraft maintenance and flight test officer for the 477th Composite Group at Godman Field, Kentucky. He was proficient in the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter, the North American B-25 Mitchell medium bomber, and Douglas C-47 Dakota transport aircraft.
He tested and performed experimentation projects with fighter aircraft for night, low level, and improvised landing field operations at Wright Field from 1949 to 1951. For five years he was the Professor of Air Science and Commander of the Tuskegee Institute’s ROTC Detachment. He then took his teaching skills overseas as the Deputy Director Military Advisory Group to the German Air Force. Following his overseas tour, he became the Chief of Maintenance of the 328th Fighter Wing, managing the aircraft maintenance functions of over 700 personnel and 60 aircraft. In 1963, he moved to Loring AFB, Maine, to provide maintenance expertise during severe climatic condition testing on Convair F-106 Delta Dart fighter interceptor aircraft. Lieutenant Colonel Carter returned to teaching in 1965 at the Tuskegee Institute and retired from the USAF in 1969. He remained at Tuskegee Institute as the Associate Dean for Student Services and for Admissions and Recruiting for 16 years. He currently lectures internationally on the Tuskegee Airmen and resides with his wife “Mike” in Tuskegee, Alabama.