Keith Carter was born in Cleveland, Liberty County Texas in 1925. He grew up there and graduated in 1943 as Valedictorian of Cleveland High School. He worked for six weeks with a geophysical crew exploring for possible petroleum prospects. As expected he soon received his draft notice, reported to Fort Sam Houston and was inducted there on September 9. After his processing he was sent to Fort Benning Georgia in the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP). After 13 weeks basic training he was enrolled at Purdue University as a mechanical engineering student. Six weeks into the program, the ASTP was abruptly cancelled in March 1944 for all the students at various universities. The men were sent to join combat units, mostly as infantrymen. Keith was assigned to the 102nd Infantry Division at Camp Swift Texas. Now some history of the 102nd:
At the same time when Keith was just starting his senior year in high school (September 1942), the 102nd Infantry Division was activated at the then half-built Camp Maxey, Texas and began training with the divisions principal units being the 405th, 406th and 407th Infantry Regiments. The 102nd traces its lineage back to its formation in WWI and it had taken the name, the Ozarks, because many of the original men of the division were from the Ozark mountain region. The division participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers in September and November 1943 following which it was transferred to Camp Swift, Texas for small unit and combined arms training. Progress in training was repeatedly set back as the division was required to give up levies of troops to fill higher priority units; that is until March 1944 when everything changed. The 102nd Infantry Division was ordered to prepare for overseas movement, and that being the point at which the Army Specialized Training Program was closed down, 3,250 of the ASTP soldiers, Keith Carter being among them, were sent to Camp Swift to bring the 102nd Division up to strength. Upon arrival in the division, Keith was assigned to the 407th Infantry Regiment and further assigned to Company F where he was designated as First Scout in his Infantry Squad.
After another four months at Camp Swift, in July the division was moved by train to Fort Dix, New Jersey, where they continued training and preparation for overseas movement. They then staged through Camp Kilmer, NJ, and in September took ship for Europe on six troop transport vessels that departed on the 12th from the New York Port of Embarkation. Keith Carter was on the Marine Wolf that crossed the Atlantic as part of a 46 ship convoy. The transports carrying the 102nd Division arrived at the bombed-out harbor of Cherbourg, France on September 23rd and disembarked. The division was bivouacked east of Cherbourg for a brief period of training and then was moved up to the German-Netherlands border. However, various units, including the 407th, initially would go into combat attached to other divisions. The divisions transportation assets were detached for a time and sent to the Red Ball Express. The men of the 407th Infantry Regiment had moved by train starting on October 23rd. The regiment reached the area near Brunssum, Netherlands on the 27th and relieved the 115th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division. They then took responsibility for the entire sector of the 29th Division on October 28th. About the same time, other regiments of the 102nd Division also took positions in the line. In the coming days a realignment of sectors was effected and all divisional units had been returned under the full control of the 102nd by November 24, 1944. They were then poised to thrust into the enemy heartland of Central Germany and they would begin with an attack to the Roer River.
The attack jumped off November 29th and carried the division to the Roer through Welz, Flossdorf and Linnich. The 407th Infantry, attacking on the divisions right, reached its objectives all along the line in the initial phase. At that time, Keith Carters Company F was the reserve company in the reserve battalion, but then things changed.
They were near the small village of Flossdorf on December 2, 1944 when Company F made its first attack, starting out before dawn in complete darkness. Before that day was over, the Scout, Keith Carter, had been wounded by machine gun fire, but continued forward to capture three enemy soldiers. Then shortly afterward on his way to the rear for treatment he was wounded again, by rifle fire, and was himself taken prisoner and started back the other way to the German rear area. Keith has written a detailed account of his part in that action, understandably titled, My Long Day, that is available for viewing at this link “My Long Day”.
Shortly after having been taken prisoner, one of Keiths captors had taken his G.I. bandage and bound up his shoulder wound. Later on the way along his evacuation route Keith was taken to a Lazarett (German military hospital) where his wounds were dressed by a French doctor. He then spent the remaining months of the war deep in Germany, first in the prisoner of war camp, Stalag IIA, at Neubrandenburg, by the Baltic Sea. From there, he was sent on work detail to a large farm near Rostock. But, after becoming ill at the farm and there being no medical treatment available there, he was returned to Stalag IIA where he had slowly recovered by wars end. Keith wrote about those experiences in a paper titled, In the Stalag (With a Farm Respite), available at this link “In the Stalag”.
Stalag IIA was liberated by Russian troops on April 29, 1945. Keith was given his Stalag ID photo retrieved from the camp records. He was with the men moved out by truck to Schwerin, then flown by C-47 to Luneburg and then sent by train to Camp Lucky Strike, the camp for newly liberated POWs in France. At Camp Lucky Strike, Keith quickly regained the 25 pounds he had lost in captivity. He then sailed for home on June 8th, and arrived back in the U.S on June 17th. He was discharged at Fort Ord, California on December 1, 1945 and returned home to Cleveland, Texas.
In March 1946, Keith began studies at Rice University using his G.I. Bill benefits and with additional funding from Vocational Rehabilitation, part 8. He transferred to the University of Texas that summer. In fact, he transferred twice between the two schools, going back and forth from Austin and Houston, before earning his degree from the UT Law School in 1950.
After graduation, he began a 40-year career as a Petroleum Land Man, initially working for Continental Oil, that company later becoming Conoco. From 1981 to 1990 Keith taught Oil and Gas Law and Business Law at the University of Texas at Austin where he also coordinated the business degree plan in Petroleum Land Management.
Following Keiths retirement in 1990, Keith and Ghita Carter travelled extensively, touring in Israel and in Europe, including back to Germany (but not re-visiting the site of Stalag IIA). They had returned to Austin again when Sun City was being built and have lived there since that time. Keith attended the 2014 Memorial Day Observance in Sun City that was hosted by Chapter 1919 in the Veterans Memorial Plaza and afterward signed up as a MOPH life member. Since then, Keith has been an active member and regular attendee of the chapters 4th Thursday luncheons in Georgetown, and now this issue of Patriot Bulletin proudly features Chapter 1919s own, Patriot Keith C. Carter.