"The Ram," honors Tuskegee Airman Carter

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Michael Hong
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing

More than four decades since Tuskegee Airman retired Lt. Col. Floyd Carter Sr. commanded the 732nd Military Airlift Squadron, assigned to the 514th Military Airlift Wing at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., Reserve Citizen Airmen from the now redesignated 732nd Airlift Squadron, with the 514th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., rendered a final salute to the casket of the former commander on the storied grounds of Arlington National Cemetery, Va., August 22, 2018.

From 1971 to 1974, Carter commanded the soon to be emblemized “Fly with the Ram,” military airlift squadron but his involvement with his Airmen did not cease with his retirement from the Air Force Reserve.

After his retirement, Carter would be seen revisiting the 732nd as part of a personal commitment to maintain the legacy of celebrating and congratulating members of the squadron at the Annual 732nd Awards Dinner. A tradition that was started under his command and faithfully maintained by his commitment to break bread with and recognize the men and women of the 732nd.

“He wasn’t just a past commander, people in the 732nd actually knew him,” said Lt. Col. Michael J. Prodeline, commander of the 732nd Airlift Squadron.

As those in attendance at the full military honors interment service at Arlington National Cemetery looked on as Carter was laid to rest, a group of commanders and aircrew of the 514th AMW—both former and current—embraced the privilege to honor a man who would share the story of his 30-year military career of breaking barriers and building a legacy as a Tuskegee Airman through his abiding determination to create a family among the members of the 732nd.

“When we have the awards dinner, we bring all the families in—and we give out certain awards like ‘The Aircrew of the Year’ award—but it’s mainly for the families,” said Chief Master Sgt. Juan Claudio, loadmaster with the 732nd AS.

Less than 1-hour away from JBMDL, as the C-17 flies, the family which Carter has fostered for more than four decades gathered as the promise to continue his legacy of faith and recognition persevered on the ground through the salutes of Airmen—both past and present—and in the air as a 732nd AS crew performed a fly-over on a C-17 Globemaster III.  

“It was a distinct honor to form up our squadron, conduct a fly-over and say good-bye to the greatest leader in our squadron’s history,” said Prodeline. “Lt. Col. Floyd Carter Sr. was a pioneer in aviation, steadfast leader, mentor and friend. He will be deeply missed by all members of ‘The Ram.’”

Carter passed away at the age of 95 on Thursday, March 8th, after having served in three wars with the U.S. Air Force and working as a New York Police Department detective.