Arthur Lloyd Carter, Sr.
December 7, 1922 – January 6, 2015
Arthur was the only child of Ida Brooks and Arthur Carter. A native of Houston, Texas, he and his grandmother migrated to Indianapolis after the death of his parents in 1924. He attended and graduated from Crispus Attucks High School, to briefly attend Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and Indiana University Extension prior to entering the military.
As Indiana teenager Arthur L. Carter stood in line waiting to go through the Army enlistment process, a stranger approached and asked if he had thought about joining the U.S. Army Air Forces.
The attack on Pearl Harbor had occurred on Carter’s 19th birthday – Dec. 7, 1941 – just weeks earlier. Patriotism among all was high. The nation was at war. The stranger was a sergeant recruiting African-American men for a government experiment.
“He said, ‘You look like you might make a good pilot,’ and then he took me into the Army Air Forces office at the old K of C Building in downtown Indianapolis,” Carter said
“That’s how I became a cadet in the black air force.” Carter served three years with the Tuskegee Airmen, from October 1942 until the end of World War II.
The pilots were trained in Alabama at Tuskegee Army Air Field at Tuskegee University, which was founded by Booker T. Washington, and at Moton Field 10 miles away. From 1941 to 1946, more than 1,000 black pilots were trained. Many did not make the cut to fly. Those who did distinguished this effort. Tuskegee Airmen received three Presidential Unit Citations, 50 Distinguished Flying Crosses and eight Purple Hearts.
Carter said he washed out twice attempting landings. The first time the plane did a ground loop, he was hospitalized for 10 days, but once he had healed, he was sent back into an aircraft. He washed out again, and this time was assigned to be an aircraft engineer. He also worked an administrative clerk because he knew how to type.He served for the US Army Air Corps from 1942 until 1945 when he was honorably discharged from active duty.
After discharge, Carter was disappointed to find race relations relatively unchanged outside the military. Inside, the men who became officers were not allowed to serve over white enlistees.
“We lost 66 men fighting over there and then we came back and nothing had changed,” Carter said in an interview with the Journal Review. “Segregation was the law of the land.”
Carter returned his wife, Ann Grace, he had married in 1942 before going to Tuskegee and to Indiana University, where he majored in accounting. The couple had four children: Lennie Carter, Arthur Jr., Dr. John Dale Carter and Mary Ann Dickerson. A fifth child, a son, died in infancy.
Carter worked as a tax accountant for the Internal Revenue Service and the General Accounting Office. He also operated his own accounting practice and the popular Twilight Travel Agency. He was also Controller for the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper. He was an honored member and leader of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and received the Silver Beaver Award from Boy Scouts of America. He was a member of the Bachelor Benedict Club and the Indianapolis 500 Oldtimers Club. Among his many honors and distinctions were the Kappa Alpha Psi Laurel Wreath Award, the Sagamore of the Wabash, and a replica of the Congressional Gold Medal.