Monday, August 3, 2009

Remembering Thomas C. Carter, MMI Class of 1908

Lieutenant Thomas Clay Carter, Jr., MMI Class of 1908. (Credit: “Letters of a Hero,” edited by Ed Shields)

Thomas Clay Carter, Jr., MMI Class of 1908, was born in Meridian, Mississippi, on February 16, 1889. An outstanding cadet at Marion Military Institute, he served as the editor of The Assembly (then, MMI’s annual), Vice- Speaker of The Commons, a cadet second lieutenant in “B” Company, he played varsity football and baseball, and he was an honored member of the Jefferson Literary Society, one of two literary societies on campus (the other being the Franklin Literary Society).

T. C. Carter was an all-around cadet at MMI.

“B” Company’s cadet officers and Sponsors.

MMI’s Football Team and Sponsors.

(Credit: The above three images are from The Assembly for 1907, MMI’s annual. MMI Archives.)

After attending the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, T. C. Carter returned to MMI as a faculty member and as the athletic director. He was later associated with his brother, Eugene Carter, in the cotton brokerage business before enlisting for service in World War I. Commissioned at Ft. Oglethorpe, GA, and assigned to Camp Gordon in Georgia, Carter went to France in early 1918, where he served as acting commander of the 320th Machine Gun Battalion, 82nd Division, A.E.F. While reconnoitering the enemy’s gun emplacements in the Argonne Forest on October 13, 1918, First Lieutenant Carter was killed. His unit buried him and their other fallen soldiers near the Forest. In 1921, Thomas Carter’s remains were removed to Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D. C. His grave is located in the Southern Division, Officer’s Section, western half of lot #4000.

Thomas C. Carter’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery (photocopy). (Credit: “Letters of a Hero,” p. 52, edited by Ed Shields)

T. C. Carter, Jr., never married. His mother had died in January, 1918, and, upon learning of his youngest child’s death (T. C., Jr., was one of nine children), his father had a stroke late in 1918. He remained an invalid for the rest of his four years, dying in 1922. Two of T.C.’s sisters, Mamie and Hattie, attended Judson College in Marion, Alabama. Mamie married one of T.C.’s MMI classmates, William C. Crumpton, in 1908. A distinguished lawyer and former state senator, William Crumpton died in 1915 and is buried in the Marion (AL) City Cemetery.

American Legion Post #21 in Meridian, Mississippi, is named in honor of Thomas Clay Carter, Jr. The Post also has the American flag which covered Carter’s casket during his Arlington burial.

I am indebted to Ward Calhoun and Ed Shields of Meridian, Mississippi, for providing the bulk of this information on T. C. Carter, Jr. Ward is the Records Manager of the Lauderdale County Department of Archives & History in Meridian, and is completing a book on the Carter Family. Ed is the editor of “Letters of a Hero” about T. C. Carter, Jr. I enjoyed hosting these gentlemen when they visited MMI last Spring. They have also donated various materials regarding the Carter Family, etc., to the MMI Archives.