Part 2 on local veteran Grant Carter: In Vietnam — WIA and wave after wave of VC, then eventually home is right here

By Paul Butler - For the News Journal

A display case in Grant Carter’s home office. The case includes his Purple Heart.

Grant Carter today, in his Honor Guard uniform.

Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of an article by local military veteran Paul Butler, who writes periodic stories on Clinton County veterans for the News Journal.

Between December 1966 and April 1967 …

On his first patrol, Grant Carter had bullets hitting the ground just inches in front of his feet, and on another occasion he heard the sound of a bullet as it whizzed by his head — so he thought. Later that day when he removed his helmet, he found a dent the bullet made in his helmet.

Unfortunately, Grant Carter became one of the more than 153,000 American soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who were Wounded in Action (WIA) in Vietnam.

In April 1967 he was struck in the lower abdomen by a piece of shrapnel and suffered a critical injury. In severe pain and deathly sick, he was evacuated to a field hospital where he was stabilized before being flown to a Navy hospital ship, the USS Sanctuary, AH 17.

Grant, though, has no recollection of the flight. The Sanctuary had just arrived in Da Nang on April 10, 1967 and treated a total of 379 combat casualties, including Grant, by the end of the month.

Because of a serious infection, the doctors left the wound open for six weeks, before removing the damaged portion of his large intestine, during their return trip to Vietnam from Subic Bay in the Philippines, where they had gone to replenish their supplies.

While on board the Sanctuary, Grant underwent three surgeries. By this time the nurses referred to him as their Senior Patient — not because of rank, rather because of his tenure.

Grant spent a total of 69 days on the USS Sanctuary before being put on a hospital plane. He was flown from Vietnam to Philadelphia via Japan and Alaska, to the naval hospital there, with the sutures from his last surgery still in place. Since the day of his injuries to the day he was admitted to Naval Hospital, Grant had lost 73 pounds, from 190 to 117.

After a relatively short stay in the hospital and with 30 days’ medical leave, he returned home to Mom’s cooking and the lost pounds found their way back.

One would not think that Grant would consider what he had just gone through a blessing, but he does. If asked, he will tell you emphatically: “If I had not been wounded, I most assuredly would have been Killed in Action (KIA).”

He will then tell you why this is such a certainty in his mind. …

Wave after wave

Grant’s full one-year tour in Vietnam was to run through December 1967. On the 2nd of November 1967, Mike Company was overrun by the Viet Cong (VC) resulting in 10 Mike Company Marines KIA and another nine WIA.

Mike Company fought hard despite the losses and the overwhelming number VC. They sent wave after wave of soldiers at them, but Mike Company exacted a serious toll on them, killing approximately 150 VC soldiers.

Additionally, Mike Company was caught up in the preparations for the brutal Tet Offensive which began in early December of 1967. Sadly, the names of 172 young Marines from Mike Company are inscribed on the black granite wall in Washington D.C., memorializing those men and women who made the supreme sacrifice for their country in Vietnam.

Mike Company was only in Vietnam for five of the 20 years the U.S. was involved. Also, among the 57,939{1} names originally etched on the wall, was another of Grant’s close friends, 2nd Lt. Mike Hootz, who lost his life just 14 days after landing in Vietnam.

When the 30 days of leave expired, Grant checked in at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, where he would spend the rest of his enlistment teaching an Artillery class. Right out of boot camp, he had been trained in Artillery, but when he got to Vietnam he was assigned to an Infantry Company.

Back to Ohio

Released from active duty in June 1968, he returned to the Dayton area, went back to the job he had before he enlisted, lived with parents for a short time, and then Grant and his friend, Mike Puckett, found a place.

Grant’s old job with the City of Dayton, Parks Department, working on a Time Study and Finance Resource committee was OK, but he was looking for more, so he took a job with NCR as a Time Study Analyst, but after three years he, along with many others, was laid off.

Grant knew it was time to finish what he had started years ago. He got a job driving a bus, enrolled at Wright State University, and a year later had his bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies.

Grant became Assistant City Manager for the city of Vandalia. Regrettably, he was not prepared for, and especially did not care for, the politics that came with the job, so after three years he felt he had to make a change. He found that change at Stauder Hospital in Troy as Director of Personnel.

During his 10 years there he became a Vice President and felt like he had found his forever position. Talks of consolidation with three other Miami Valley Hospitals and the ramifications of such a move made things untenable for Grant, so it was back to square one for the husband of a Registered Nurse and father of four.

It did not take long for this personable, soft-spoken Marine to find a home at Aetna Financial Services. During his years in Financial Sales with the company, the name changed to ING and finally Voya. The company name changed, but his position was consistent regardless of the name Grant retired from Voya.

Mike reunion

Reading through the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) magazine, Grant became aware of a Mike Company reunion and attended the first reunion at the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in November 1982, after a week-long salute to all those who served during the Vietnam war. Since then, he has attended six more reunions in various places around the country, including Branson, Missouri.

Grant had married the former Sharon Michael in 1969 and they are the proud parents of four children, Mathew, Gillian, Zachary and Allison. The two boys followed in Dad’s footsteps and both are in Financial Sales for Voya and the girls followed closely to their Mother’s footsteps — a retired Registered Nurse — as Gillian is a Speech Therapist and Allison an Occupational Therapist.

Home is here

Thirty-five years ago, Grant, Sharon and family were living in Troy, but wanted to find a quiet, comfortable place with a little land. They found a beautiful house snuggled in the trees in the Wilmington area on SR 380 have called it home ever since.

Grant and his son, Mathew, have a house on Norris Lake in Tennessee that they rent about half the year. When it is not rented, they are there performing maintenance on the house and grounds or relaxing on a boat or enjoying quiet time on what he calls the best boat dock on Norris lake.

Grant is a member of Wilmington Veterans Post 49, American Legion, and he is an active member of the Post 49 Honor Guard.

The writer, Paul Butler, is a Wilmington resident, U.S. Navy veteran, and a Class of 2020 inductee of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.

In September 2020, Clinton County recognized Paul for his “dedication and commitment in military service as well as his exceptional post military advocacy and volunteerism for the veteran community.” A 2020 News Journal article called him “the voice and the fountain pen for Clinton County veterans organizations and related projects.”

A display case in Grant Carter’s home office. The case includes his Purple Heart. display case in Grant Carter’s home office. The case includes his Purple Heart.

Grant Carter today, in his Honor Guard uniform. Carter today, in his Honor Guard uniform.

By Paul Butler

For the News Journal