Forty-four years after making the ultimate sacrifice to protect fellow Marines while fighting North Vietnamese soldiers, U.S. Marine Pfc. Class Bruce Carter — a Medal of Honor recipient — was recognized during a formal military ceremony Dec. 5, 2013. The ceremony was held at the Miami VA Medical Center, which was named after Pfc. Carter in 2008 as a tribute to his bravery and selfless sacrifice.
U.S. Marine Gen. John Kelly, commander, U.S. Southern Command, presented Carter’s mother, Georgie Carter-Krell, with the Medal of Honor Flag on behalf of the president of the United States, the secretary of the Navy and a grateful nation.
During the ceremony, Carter-Krell presented the Medal of Honor flag to Mark Morgan, associate director of Miami VAMC. Carter-Krell has carried on her family’s legacy of service by volunteering at the hospital for more than 20 years.
Carter served as a radio operator with Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. On Aug. 7, 1969, while in combat north of Vandgrift Base in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam, Carter threw himself on an enemy grenade, giving his life in service so that his fellow Marines could survive.
The Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award, has been awarded to 3,467 Servicemembers since its inception in 1862. Fewer than 100 recipients are still living.
Carter was the only Medal of Honor recipient from South Florida who served in the Vietnam War. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1971.
Carter’s Medal of Honor Citation reads as follows:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as grenadier with Company H in connection with combat operations against the enemy. Pfc. Carter’s unit was maneuvering against the enemy during Operation Idaho Canyon and came under a heavy volume of fire from a numerically superior hostile force. The lead element soon became separated from the main body of the squad by a brush fire. Pfc. Carter and his fellow Marines were pinned down by vicious crossfire when, with complete disregard for his safety, he stood in full view of the North Vietnamese Army soldiers to deliver a devastating volume of fire at their positions. The accuracy and aggressiveness of his attack caused several enemy casualties and forced the remainder of the soldiers to retreat from the immediate area. Shouting directions to the Marines around him, Pfc. Carter then commenced leading them from the path of the rapidly approaching brush fire when he observed a hostile grenade land between him and his companions. Fully aware of the probable consequences of his action but determined to protect the men following him, he unhesitatingly threw himself over the grenade, absorbing the full effects of its detonation with his body. Pfc. Carter’s indomitable courage, inspiring initiative, and selfless devotion to duty upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.”
Congress authorized the creation of the Medal of Honor flag as a special recognition for recipients of America’s highest military honor. A public law later expanded eligibility to the primary living next-of-kin of Medal of Honor recipients killed in action or deceased.