Lee Bert Carter

Published 10:51 am Sunday, March 18, 2018

Lee Bert Carter, 90, died at his home in Fayetteville, on Sunday, March 11, 2018.

He was born May 14, 1927 on a farm in Davie County, the son of Sidney and Jessie (Shumate) Carter. He was raised in Mocksville, along with his brothers Allie (Buck), Pearlie (June), and sisters: Magdalene (Maggie), Nellie Mae (Nell), Annie Marie (Rita) and Gail. Eager to serve his country, he joined the U.S. Navy on May 14, 1944. Rising quickly from seaman to gunners mate 3rd class on the heavily armed gunboat PGM 32, he and the crew of 72 men saw combat in the Invasion of Okinawa, defending the main fleet from kamikaze pilots. His gunboat was then assigned as fleet escort for the impending Invasion of Japan, serving as part of the mine sweeping operation in Tokyo Bay. Soon after, Japan officially surrendered aboard the USS Missouri, an historic event which Mr. Carter himself witnessed from the deck of his gunboat. Shortly after, he completed his Naval service and enlisted in the U.S. Army Airborne, attending jump and glider school. Upon graduation, he was assigned to the 82nd, 11th, and 187RCT Airborne divisions over the course of the next 15 years, during which time he served in the Korean War. Upon his return to the States, he joined the Special Forces, serving 10 years with multiple tours in the Vietnam War under the 1st, 3rd, and 5th groups, and achieved the rank of master sergeant. He earned numerous military awards and commendations, including the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge and Master Parachutist. His highest honor, the Silver Star, was awarded after defending a small tank company that was ambushed during a patrol. Wounded during the encounter, he was also awarded the Purple Heart.  After his service in the military, he was employed at Fort Bragg as a civil service professional, spending 20 years with the Post Engineers as a heating and air mechanic, before his retirement. Never one to remain idle, he subsequently volunteered at the VA, assisting and transporting wheelchair bound veterans. His dedicated service to our country spanned nearly 50 years. Gregarious, generous, and proud to serve his country, he lived life to the fullest.

It was during his service in the Korean War that Lee met and fell in love with his future wife, Hisako Saeki. Temporarily transferred to Japan, he and his battalion were stationed in Beppu, Hisako’s hometown. During an evening dance, Lee met Hisako and sparked a romance that resulted in a marriage lasting 40 years, until her passing in 1994. In 1958, they settled permanently in Fayetteville, where they raised their daughter, Kimiko.

Survivors: his daughter, Kimiko Kitayama and her husband Masaharu; grandsons, George Duncan and wife Joanne, James Duncan; great-granddaughter, Emilia Duncan; sisters, Annie Marie (Rita) Chandler, Gail Frye and husband Robert (Pete); many cousins, nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were held at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 17, in Reeves Funeral Home chapel, with the Rev. Robert Whitaker officiating. Burial followed at Cumberland Memorial gardens, with full military honors.

Memorials: Green Beret Foundation, 6516 Dental Lane, Suite A, Fayetteville, 28314 (www.greenberetfoundation.org.)

Condolences: www.reevesfunerals.com.