b. 25/01/1980 Spokane, Washington.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 03/10/2009 Kamdesh, Afghanistan.
Carter was born in Spokane, Washington on January 25, 1980 and moved to California’s Bay Area in 1981. In 1991, his family moved back to Spokane, where he graduated from North Central High School in 1998. He later settled in Antioch, California until he enlisted in the US Army.
Carter enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps October 13, 1998, and attended the Marine Corps Combat Engineer School. He later served in Okinawa, Japan, as an intelligence clerk. Carter showed promise in weapons’ marksmanship and was sent to Primary Marksmanship Instructor School in 1999. He served two short training deployments; one to San Clemente Island, Calif., and the other to Egypt, for Operation Bright Star. Carter was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps on Oct. 12, 2002.
After his enlistment, Carter enrolled in college and studied biology at Los Medanos Community College in California where he met and began dating April Ait in early 2004. April soon became pregnant and they were married shortly thereafter. After the birth of their daughter Madison, some time travelling the United States, and subsequent divorce, Carter opted to re-join the U.S. Army.
Carter enlisted in the U.S. Army in January 2008 as a cavalry scout and received training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. From May 2009 to May 2010, he was deployed to Afghanistan with Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
In May 2009, then-Spc. Carter deployed to Afghanistan with his unit, the Black Knight Troop of the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. Not long after their arrival in the country, the unit was sent to Combat Outpost Keating, one of the country’s most remote and vulnerable spots. COP Keating was near the Pakistan border in a deep valley surrounded by tall mountains and was known to the soldiers stationed there as “the fishbowl” because they were easy targets for hidden enemies.
While COP Keating’s soldiers constantly shielded themselves from enemy fire, little was able to prepare them for the events of Oct. 3, 2009, which became known as the Battle of Kamdesh. Early that morning, Carter and 52 other American soldiers were woken by the sounds of an attack. About 300 Taliban fighters hidden in the hills surrounding all four sides of the outpost fired on them using rocket-propelled grenades, anti-aircraft machine guns, mortars and other small arms.
Carter immediately jumped out of bed, threw on his boots and Kevlar vest and quickly began to do his job, which was to reinforce a forward battle position — in this case, a Humvee that housed the long-range advanced scout surveillance system. He ran at least twice through a 100-meter gauntlet of enemy fire to resupply ammunition to the men in the vehicle, and he voluntarily stayed with them to defend it. The Humvee’s tires had quickly been flattened, which meant Carter and four other soldiers were trapped there as the barrage of gunfire continued.
As Taliban fighters moved onto the outpost, the men knew they had to run to safety, or they would die there. So, Carter and Sgt. Brad Larson provided cover for the three other soldiers to try to escape. Two of the men went down quickly, while the third, Spc. Stephan Mace, disappeared into a cloud of smoke.
Carter and Larson stayed in the Humvee for hours, taking shots out of the windows with their rifles when they could to defend themselves. Eventually, Carter saw something on the ground — a wounded Mace, about 30 yards away from the Humvee. Carter said he wanted to help his comrade, but Larson initially refused, saying it was too dangerous.
Larson soon relented, though, and Carter began a treacherous journey outside the protections of the Humvee. The young soldier ran through a hail of rocket propelled grenades and machine-gun fire to get to Mace and tend to his devastating leg wounds. Carter then picked up his fellow soldier and carried him back through the heavy gunfire into the Humvee.
Carter didn’t stay inside long, though. He got back out of the vehicle to search for something that would help rescue them. He managed to recover the squad’s radio, which allowed them to coordinate their evacuation with other soldiers at the outpost. Those soldiers, led by Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha, provided cover fire as Carter and Larson ran from the Humvee while carrying Mace on a stretcher. They made it through about 100 meters of withering enemy fire to get to the aid station.
While they’d made it out of a tough situation, the battle wasn’t over, so Carter returned to the fight. By this point, much of the outpost had caught fire, and flames were bearing down on the aid station where they’d just delivered Mace. Several other soldiers lay wounded inside, too, so Carter left the safety of cover one more time. He grabbed a chainsaw that he’d found and cut down a burning tree, saving the aid station from being engulfed by flames. Carter then worked alongside his fellow soldiers to push back the enemy. After more than 12 hours of fighting, reinforcements arrived, and they were able to retake the outpost.
Sadly, Mace didn’t survive the ordeal. He died in surgery hours later. But his mother, Vanessa Adelson, was quoted as saying that her son died at peace thanks to Carter’s courage. “I’m so grateful … because Stephan could have died in the dirt,” Adelson said. Carter suffered several physical and psychological injuries from the ordeal, but he remained on deployment for several months. He was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, when he returned to the U.S. He even deployed a second time to Afghanistan in May 2012.
While Carter was notified shortly after the Battle of Kamdesh that he was being considered for the Medal of Honor, the official news that it had been approved didn’t come through until nearly four years later. On Aug. 26, 2013, Carter received the nation’s highest honor from President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House. Carter’s wife, Shannon, their three children, and several of his family members were able to attend. Carter has always said that the honor belongs to the entire Black Knight Troop, including the eight soldiers who died that day at COP Keating.
A few months before Carter’s award, Romesha — the soldier who had led the cover fire that helped Carter, Mace and Larson escape the doomed Humvee — also received the Medal of Honor. It marked the first time since the Vietnam War that two living recipients earned the medal during the same battle.
Carter left the Army as a staff sergeant in 2014. He was very open about his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, so he decided to become a mental health advocate. In the years since his honorable discharge, he’s become a motivational speaker who works often with veterans on their mental health education. Carter’s actions in Afghanistan were depicted in a recent movie. “The Outpost,” released in 2020, was based on the 2012 book about the Battle of Kamdesh. Carter was played by actor Caleb Landry Jones.
Specialist Ty M. Carter distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Scout with Bravo Troop, 3d Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, during combat operations against an armed enemy in Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on October 3, 2009. On that morning, Specialist Carter and his comrades awakened to an attack of an estimated 300 enemy fighters occupying the high ground on all four sides of Combat Outpost Keating, employing concentrated fire from recoilless rifles, rocket propelled grenades, anti-aircraft machine guns, mortars and small arms fire. Specialist Carter reinforced a forward battle position, ran twice through a 100 meter gauntlet of enemy fire to resupply ammunition and voluntarily remained there to defend the isolated position. Armed with only an M4 carbine rifle, Specialist Carter placed accurate, deadly fire on the enemy, beating back the assault force and preventing the position from being overrun, over the course of several hours. With complete disregard for his own safety and in spite of his own wounds, he ran through a hail of enemy rocket propelled grenade and machine gun fire to rescue a critically wounded comrade who had been pinned down in an exposed position. Specialist Carter rendered life extending first aid and carried the Soldier to cover. On his own initiative, Specialist Carter again maneuvered through enemy fire to check on a fallen Soldier and recovered the squad’s radio, which allowed them to coordinate their evacuation with fellow Soldiers. With teammates providing covering fire, Specialist Carter assisted in moving the wounded Soldier 100 meters through withering enemy fire to the aid station and before returning to the fight. Specialist Carter’s heroic actions and tactical skill were critical to the defense of Combat Outpost Keating, preventing the enemy from capturing the position and saving the lives of his fellow Soldiers.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: WITH RECIPIENT.