Patriotism runs high in the Carter family of Waynesfield. Our father, J. Merle Carter, age 92, served his country in the U.S. Army and set the example for his nine children. We are all proud to say he is a World War II and a Korean War Veteran. Three of his children, Loretta, Lana and Brian, served in the Navy. One son in law, Bill, and a daughter in law, Louise, also served in the Navy; another son in law, Steve, served in the Army and currently serves in the Ohio Army National Guard as a Command Sergeant Major; plus his grandson, Harrison, is currently in the Navy. Pop is quite proud of his family.
Pop loves to tell his army stories to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He wants his family to know how our country stood strong together and what the children are really honoring when they say the pledge to the flag. He is also one of the longest members of the Waynesfield American Legion where he rides proudly in the yearly Memorial Day Parade with another 98-year-old Waynesfield veteran, Bob Walti.
Our father joined the army in June 1945, near the end of World War II. The Army took him to France and Germany. He proudly tells how he rode on a railroad boxcar in France at a replacement camp called a 40 and 8 which meant it was pulled by eight horses and held 40 men. Eventually he was in the 4th Armored Division MP Platoon in Ragensburg, Germany, guarding American GI prisoners from the fall 1945 until spring 1946. Some of the troops went home, but Pop went on to Wiesbaden, Germany, until January 1947. It was there that he met the love of his life and future wife for 61 years, Helene Nikolaenko. Pop was honorably discharged in January 1947, but unable to find a good job, he re-enlisted in the Army in July.
He went back to Germany as part of the 7751 Military Police Custom Platoon assigned to check all ships with six German Custom officers looking for contraband.
As our father was coming home from Germany in 1950, the Korean War started. His ship was halfway across the Atlantic Ocean, and they did an involuntary enlistment so he had to regroup and head to Hungnam, North Korea, as part of the 10th Corp 88th Military Police Corps. Pop and his MP group directed over 100,000 G.I.s and refugees to the correct ships for evacuation when they were kicked out of North Korea by the Chinese. Pop said they would lay in bed at night and watch 15-inch diameter shells being shot from the ship toward North Korea. The shells were made to sink ships and convoys.
Christmas Day 1950 was Pop’s last day in North Korea. They left at the same time the engineers blew up the port and destroyed everything. From there he went to South Korea to patrol. He was there until July 1951, when he returned to the United States. After his discharge, Pop went to Omaha, Nebraska. It was there that he proposed to and later married Helene. She had been sponsored by General Allen Wood Rigsby to come to America. Our mother was from Ukraine, but was taken to work in Germany during the war. Mom and Pop returned to Waynesfield where they raised their nine children.
Our parents’ story is one we will cherish forever. From Waynesfield to France to Germany to Korea and back to Waynesfield is one journey that brings true the statement, “There’s no place like home.”