Floyd Jefferson Carter Sr.
November 2, 1922 – March 8, 2018
Graduation Date: 3/23/1946
Service # T146021
Carter spanned history, from serving in the U.S. military despite discrimination in World War II to tours in two more wars — and a long career as a police detective in New York City. Carter spent 27 years with the NYPD, where his duties included guarding visiting heads of state, including Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Soviet head Nikita Khrushchev.
After he became a police officer in 1953, Carter quickly rose to the rank of detective; he retired from the NYPD in 1980.
He rose to the rank of Air Force lieutenant colonel years after joining the group of African-American pilots at Tuskegee, according to the Daily News. It was there that he met his wife Artherine, who was working as part of an all- female repair crew. Carter wooed her on several dates in his plane, and they were married at the air base in 1945.
In addition to serving during World War II, Carter flew during the Korean and Vietnam wars and led the first squadron of supply-laden planes into Berlin during the famed Cold War airlift of 1948-49.
During the Tet Offensive, Carter flew U.S. troops and supplies into South Vietnam.
“He’s got a little history,” said Floyd Jr. “We were blessed, we sure were. He went from what I call the outhouse to the fine house. The Lord blessed him.”
Carter retired from the U.S. Air Force Reserves in the early 1970s as a lieutenant colonel, having served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. In the final years of his more than 30-year career, he made history again as “the first African American commander of a heavy jet transport squadron,” as Flying magazine reported in 2009.
In an interview for that article in Flying, Carter spoke about the discrimination he and his fellow cadets faced during their training at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. The conditions were a main reason cadets exited the program. Carter said he only reacted once — by buzzing Alabama’s Capitol building during a speech by the governor, whom he called “extremely racist.”
From Flying, in 2009:
“So I took that B-25 to Montgomery … it was only about 30 miles away,’ Carter said. A broad, impish grin spread across the elderly man’s face as he recalled the incident, all these years later. ‘It was night, so I knew nobody would see my numbers. And I took that B-25 down low, and I turned up the power, and then I turned up the props.’ He paused. ‘And you know,’ he said, ‘when you turn up the props on a B-25, it really makes some noise!’ He chuckled, remembering. ‘And then I flew right over the top of that building, just to disturb his speech.’ “
The Tuskegee Airmen were honored in 2007 with the Congressional Gold Medal by President George W. Bush.
In 2012, Carter joined “Star Wars” filmmaker George Lucas for a screening of his film “Red Tails” about the Tuskegee Airmen — the first black aviators in the U.S. military, trained in Alabama as a segregated unit.