When John Carter was a youngster he used to jump off of garages onto mattresses for fun, so it seems logical that he would want to be in the airborne division when he volunteered to serve in Vietnam. Of course, training to jump out of airplanes was quite different from his childhood fun, but he loved it and every jump was different.
John served in a reconnaissance unit in Vietnam, making sure that the battalion didn’t walk into an ambush. It was always a dangerous mind game of trying to outwit the enemy, and he was determined not to lose—which would have meant getting caught by the enemy, or worse.
In addition to the enemy, the jungle was full of other dangers—frightening things that he had never seen before: large fire ants, termites, cobras, vipers and huge blood-sucking leeches that would crawl into your underwear.
John says that while in the jungles of Vietnam he came to miss the simple, everyday conveniences of life—running water, a bathroom, a clean bed—things that most other people take for granted here in the United States.
In April 2013, Vietnam veteran John Carter joined us for our first veterans oral history educational project at Winchester-Thurston School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was part of our effort to work with teachers and students to provide an interesting workshop covering the oral history process, appropriate interview questions, special considerations when interviewing veterans, active listening skills, and oral history ethics.