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Specialist Michael Carter - Someone You Should Know

This soldier should get a waiver for Special Forces Assessment and Selection and begin the next class in the Q course.  Of the ten Silver Stars awarded for the battle of Shok Valley, nine were earned by SF soldiers.  The tenth was awarded to a combat cameraman:


Spc. Michael Carter
Combat Documentation & Production Specialist 55th Signal Company (Combat Camera)

On Dec. 12, 2008 Spc. Michael Carter, Combat Documentation & Production Specialist 55th Signal Company (Combat Camera) was awarded the Silver Star for actions in the Shok Valley of Nuristan Province, Afghanistan April 6, 2008.

Spc. Carter was one of 10 Soldiers awarded Silver Stars for that engagement, but unlike the Soldiers of Operational Detachment A (ODA) 3336 on the raid, Spc. Carter is a Combat Cameraman.

During the hour-long mountainside battle, Spc. Carter charged forward while laying down suppressive fire to recover a wounded Soldier, then alternated between providing first aid and repulsing the enemy. He again exposed himself to enemy fire when he ran across open ground to recover a satellite phone. He assisted the ODA commander with calling for and directing close air support, and assisted the team medic in providing first aid to two more wounded Soldiers.

When the enemy closed to within 40 feet, Spc. Carter stood his ground and laid suppressive fire to block the advance. With danger-close airstrikes landing less than 100 meters away, Spc. Carter used his body to shield casualties from falling debris, and assisted in a daring rescue down a nearly vertical 60-foot cliff.

For his gallantry in action, Spc. Michael Carter is this week's Warrior-Soldier.

A fuller report (and a MUST READ) and the entire silver star citation is after the Jump.

[Thanks to DoA Public Affairs for the information!]

Combat Cameraman gets Silver Star...
By Specialist Sean Everette

You’ve just inserted with the Special Forces team to which you are assigned. You’re in a wadi, a dry river bed in Afghanistan, looking up a nearly sheer cliff face you have to climb to reach the mission objective. The cliff face is terraced, so you won’t have to climb straight up the whole way, but it still won’t be easy to reach the top. You and your team start the climb, and make it to a ledge about 60 feet up, before the enemy reveal themselves. Shots ring out. The kak-kak-kak of automatic weapons fire seems to be coming from every direction. Rocket propelled grenades are exploding nearby. It’s an ambush and you are caught in the middle of it. What do you do?

This is the situation in which Specialist Michael Carter found himself one day in early April. Carter, a 25V Combat Documentation and Production Specialist with the 55th Signal Company (Combat Camera), was attached to a Special Forces detachment to document their missions via photo and video in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During this situation, however, Carter performed as one of the Special Forces Soldiers he was on mission with, and his actions have earned him a nomination to receive the prestigious Silver Star. This makes him the only Combat Cameraman to receive this honor.

Carter was a part of the C2, command-and-control, node along with the detachment commander, an interpreter, communications specialist, and other team members. As the ambush began, Carter was with the detachment commander.
“We started taking fire from almost every direction. It seemed like 360,” Carter said. “And that’s when rounds started impacting… everybody just started contact, started firing.”

The two of them began to lay suppressive fire while taking cover in a nook in the cliff face. With them was the detachment’s interpreter, who immediately on reaching the nook was shot and killed just two feet from where Carter was taking cover. Carter provided suppressive fire for the detachment commander while the interpreter’s body was recovered and the two scrambled to find better cover.

The C2 node was pinned down by enemy fire. The communications specialist with the node was about 15 feet away from Carter and the detachment commander when he was shot in the arm and leg. Another Soldier made his way to the wounded commo specialist and had just begun to perform first aid when he was also shot. Under the protection of suppressive fire laid down by the commander, Carter rushed to the fallen Soldiers, and, avoiding enemy fire, recovered the commo specialist, dragging him back to cover 15 feet away. He then laid suppressive fire while the detachment commander recovered the other Soldier.

Carter again exposed himself to withering enemy fire to recover the communications equipment he was forced to leave behind when he rescued the commo specialist.

“We needed the commo guy’s radio, which was still in his bag. When we dragged him back, we didn’t get his bag. The captain and the JTAC (the Air Force communications specialist with the team) started laying suppressive fire. I ran out and grabbed the radio and brought it back.

Once he got the equipment back to the detachment commander, Carter assisted in getting communications with higher headquarters reestablished, allowing the detachment to call in Close Air Support (CAS) strikes.

Carter then moved to giving life-saving first aid to the two wounded Soldiers he and the detachment commander had rescued. This allowed the detachment medic to see to ten wounded Afghan Commandos from the Afghan detachment working with the Special Forces team.

At this point, the team had determined there were between 100 and 200 insurgents making up the enemy force. As the fire fight drug on through the day, there was a nearly continuous back-and-forth of gun fire. At one point, the enemy had closed to within 40 feet of the position Carter occupied with the detachment commander and was advancing, threatening to overrun their position. Carter again exposed himself to enemy fire and laid down suppressive fire, breaking the enemy advance and preventing them from overrunning his position.

When, towards the end of the six-and-a-half hour ambush, the team could finally begin a retreat, a new way down the cliff face had to be found. To go back the way they came would have resulted in heavy casualties.

“More people would have died… or gotten wounded,” Carter explained.
Carter joined with the team engineer to find a new path down, but it wasn’t an easy walk.

“We had to Spiderman down the cliff to find ways. There were 20 foot down straight drops. It was just a bad place to be at.”
Bad place or not, it was the only way down. Carter helped get the wounded members of his team down the cliff face while shielding them from falling debris.

“I took one [of the wounded Soldiers] down, the one who was able to walk. He wasn’t as bad off. He was still conscious,” Carter remembered. “I’d climb down first, and there were parts where he couldn’t hold [on to the cliff face], so I’d let him drop on me so I could catch him and continue taking him down.”

Carter did this with several more Soldiers, moving the wounded to the Casualty Collection Point (CCP) and going back for more. He carried the wounded commo specialist and a Soldier who had lost a leg and made sure they made it out of the fight.

By the time the medivac helicopters arrived, the fight was winding down, though CAS and gunfire was still occasionally going off. Carter assisted in getting the wounded on to stretchers, and getting them across the wadi and into the waiting helicopters.

It was days later when Carter learned he was being nominated for a Silver Star.
“I was writing up sworn statements of what happened and [one of the other Soldiers on my team] accidentally told me. I was like, ‘What? Huh? What are you talking about?’”

Carter’s disbelief stemmed from how he felt about what he did.

“My whole thing is I do what you would do for me. I’m no one special. I’m just a normal person. I just did [for my team members] what [they] would do for me.”
Despite his modest outlook on what he did, Carter is grateful for the recognition.

“Yes, I’m proud of it. Don’t get me wrong. [But] I’m a humble person. Medals and badges do not make the person.”

That may be true, but the Silver Star will let everyone else know what kind of person Michael Carter is… an American hero.

Here is the full citation for SPC Carter's silver star:

Specialist Michael D. Carter, United States (US) Army, heroically distinguished himself by valorous conduct in the face of the enemy of the US as Combat Cameraman attached to Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 3336, Special Operations Task Force — 33, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan, in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

On 6 April 2008, Specialist Carter heroically fought for over an hour up a mountain while under intense Insurgent fire to help rescue wounded members of the ODA and Afghan Commandos who were pinned down.

Specialist Carter was in a wadi and under heavy sniper, Rocket Propelled Grenade, small arms and machine gun fire after initial contact, as the ODA Command and Control (C2) element was fixed by multiple Insurgent firing positions on the mountain.

Specialist Carter immediately returned fire on Insurgent locations, exposing himself to an intense volume of fire while killing multiple Insurgent fighters and providing suppressive fire as the ODA Commander recovered the body of their dead interpreter.

Bullets continued to impact mere inches to his left and his right, critically wounding two ODA members.

With complete disregard for his safety, Specialist Carter left his covered position and charged 15 feet into Insurgent fire providing suppressive fire and recovering a critically wounded detachment member.

Recovering the critically wounded Soldier, Specialist Carter immediately began rendering life saving aid and continued to suppress Insurgent positions threatening to overrun their element.

Specialist Carter once again exposed himself as he ran across open ground under intense Insurgent fire to recover a Satellite Communications Radio.

Upon returning to the ODA Commander’s position, he assisted him in operating the radio, while continually providing suppressive fire on numerous Insurgent positions.

His actions allowed the ODA Commander to re-establish communication with higher headquarters, and aided in directing Close Air Support strikes (CAS) onto Insurgent positions attempting to maneuver on their location.

As the six and a half hour battle progressed, Specialist Carter proceeded to administer life saving aid to two ODA members, allowing the detachment medic to render aid to the ten wounded Afghan Commandos.

His actions further enabled the ODA to direct danger CAS and engage Insurgent positions with suppressive fire against insurgents attempting to maneuver on their position.

When Insurgent fighters closed within 40 feet and the position was about to be overrun, he courageously exposed himself and engaged Insurgent fighters with suppressive fire to stem their advance and disrupt their ability to overtake their position.

With danger close air strikes impacting less than 100 meters from his position, Specialist Carter shielded casualties from falling debris and assisted in an extremely dangerous and courageous rescue of more than six casualties down a near vertical 60 foot cliff.

Specialist Carter’s poise under fire and valorous acts allowed the patrol to conduct a Medical Evacuation for their wounded and dead comrades.

His actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military heroism and reflect distinct credit upon himself, Special Operations Task Force — 33, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force — Afghanistan, Special Operations Command Central, and the United States Army.