Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

August 6, 2012

Carter receives medals for service

CROSSVILLE — During his military career, John L. "Jack" Carter served abroad three ships, including the aircraft carrier USS Leyte CV32 and the destroyer USS Cushing DD797. However, it was his time on board the USS Mount Katmai AE16 that was the most memorable — and frightening.

"The only relief I had… was when the AE16 was in port and I was ashore," he said.

Carter, who joined the Navy in 1948, served 16 months during 1950-'51 in the Korean war zone as a machinist mate 3rd class in the engineering department of the ammunition ship USS Mount Katmai. The ship stayed semi-loaded to fully loaded with ammunition at all times. The chances of an explosion increased as its crew loaded and unloaded the ammunition on a routine basis and with mines floating freely in the seas that they sailed.

"Just being with this much ammunition and the dangers of an explosion were terrifying," he said.

Even before he was in enemy waters, Carter was fearful of an explosion. At the ship's home port in Port Chicago, CA, the crew had to load explosive ammunition aboard the ship for two weeks. Always in the back of his mind were the stories he heard about two ammunition ships being blown up during World War II, killing a few hundred men.

His fear intensified once the USS Mount Katmai began sailing down the Sacramento River, out into the San Francisco Bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge into the Pacific Ocean. There, they were joined by a destroyer escort and formed a two-ship convoy, with the destroyer leading the way. They began sailing on a zigzag course, searching for any dangers that might occur, including mines and enemy submarines.

Shortly after leaving U.S. waters, a submarine was sighted. The USS Mount Katmai went into a "general quarters" mode with a lot of excitement, unease and praying, Carter noted. It turned out to be a false alarm — the "sub" was a whale.

"Our prayers were answered," he said.

The praying continued as they made their way to Japan and then into Korean waters. Once the crew began replenishing other ships at sea, Carter found himself falling to his knees and praying several times.

"… It was stressful day and night… We lived with the knowledge that there were chances of the ship blowing up at any time," he explained.

There were incidents that left Carter seriously thinking that he might never go home. One took place during a rearming operation as he stood throttle watch while steaming in a three-ship convoy.

"The bow lookout started screaming hysterically, 'It's a mine, it's a mine," over and over," Carter recalled. "The sailor on the bridge was screaming, 'What? Where?' All strategic watches were wearing headphones. At last, the bow lookout managed to get out, 'Dead ahead,' and I started down on my knees to pray. At that time the engine room enunciator began to clang… It brought me to my senses, and I commenced answering the bells."

The crew found out later that the mine had gone off in the wash. Carter pointed out that the bow lookout received a reward (a carton of cigarettes of his choice) like all the other sailors before him who had alerted to a mine.

Carter recalled another incident that took place when a high line let a cargo net full of five-inch powder cans get away on its downward slide and it crashed into a ship being rearmed. Then there was another mishap that involved a destroyer with a junior officer in command.

"A destroyer was to be replenished, so we being the larger ship, the destroyer was to come alongside of us," Carter stated. "This particular day, the sea was a bit rougher than usual. No one knew why the old man on the destroyer was letting a junior officer be in command on the bridge.

"He brought his ship in at a fast rate of speed with the intention of backing down and settling in where he wanted it," he continued. "No, it didn't work. He tried again and it didn't work. The third time, his ship collided with the Mount Katmai. That did it. The captain of the destroyer, who had been standing aft in a gun turret, more or less, flew to the bridge and relieved the young man in command of his watch. I don't know how much danger their maneuver put us in, but I didn't want to be in a collision of two ships at sea, especially when one is loaded with high explosives."

Sailors on other ships felt uneasy around the USS Mount Katmai as well. Every time the ship entered a port, it was not welcome to a close-in anchorage or a dockside berth. Instead, it was forced to anchor far away in case there was an explosion.

Carter was relieved when he switched ships in 1951, when he boarded the U.S.S. Cushing. He served on the destroyer until he was honorably discharged in October 1952 in Norfolk, VA.

For his service during the Korean War, Carter earned several medals and ribbons, including the Good Conduct Medal, Occupation Service Medal, National Defense Medal with Asia Bar, Korean Service Medal, Korea (Defense of the UN Charter) Medal, Korean War Service (50th anniversary) Medal, Combat Action Ribbon with Star, Navy Unit Commendation and C, D, E and F Match Medals 3-6.

"I am very proud and honored to have served my country," Carter concluded.

1
Text Only
Area News
  • Sales tax collections down

    Cumberland County Finance Director Nathan Brock reported to the Cumberland County Budget Committee that local option sales tax collections have fallen below budgeted projections for the 2013-'14 fiscal year.

    April 19, 2014

  • Motion to toss evidence in burglary denied

    A defense motion to have evidence seized by deputies searching for a man who fled warrant service thrown out failed when deputies testified they had oral permission from the defendant's son to search the residence the father and son share.

    April 18, 2014

  • donate life.jpg Organ donation gives man new lease on life

    Travis Hodges has a new lease on life, thanks to a selfless gift a young father made the year before.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fireworks, sign change get council OK

    While the April Crossville City Council meeting was generally a calm one, there were some fireworks on the agenda.

    April 18, 2014

  • quackers at the library.jpg Spring jamboree

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Suspect charged in Sportsman Club break-in

    A Crossville man has been arrested and charged in connection with the burglary of a shooting club's building in the county that occurred last week, according to arrest reports.

    April 17, 2014

  • Panel discusses auditing hotel/motel tax collections

    Commissioners on the budget committee discussed the possibility of auditing hotels and motels in the county regarding the collection of hotel/motel tax collection figures being down.

    April 17, 2014

  • Repent burglar must serve time

    Some defendants cry, because they get caught, and others are tearful with remorse. No one in the courtroom doubted Robert Killeen's sincerity when he apologized to his victim, his loved ones and supporters for committing crimes against an elderly widow, stealing the money her late husband left her.

    April 17, 2014

  • Panel OKs budget amendments

    The Cumberland County Budget Committee approved a $134,506 budget amendment for the Cumberland County Solid Waste Department in order to accept a grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for enhanced waste oil collection.

    April 16, 2014

  • Council votes to seek RFQs for wastewater operation

    The city of Crossville has had a 20-year relationship with Veolia Water, the contractor that currently operates the wastewater treatment plant for the city, and while council members say they don't have a problem with the company's service, they have voted to send out requests for qualifications (RFQ) to determine if they have the best company operating the facility.

    April 16, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice