Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

In Memory of
Captain Michael J. Carter
Engine Company 27
Appointed November 23, 1925
Promoted to Auto Fireman March 1, 1932
Promoted to Captain June 16, 1932
Died June 9, 1950
Cardiac arrest at fire.
Alco Research Corporation
1107 North El Centro Avenue

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Captain Michael J. Carter

Michael Carter, an Irish Catholic, was a stationary engineer and electrician by trade and worked at the Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield.  On December 26, 1917, after war had broken out in Europe, he enlisted in the army.  He was sent to France with the Signal Corps of the 361st Infantry of the American Expeditionary Force.  His battalion ended up near Gesnes and came under heavy combat.  During the battle of the Meuse-Argonne it was reported: "He repeatedly spliced telephone wires in the midst of heavy artillery and machine gun fire during the attack and displayed exceptional coolness and personal bravery and aided materially in maintaining communication between battalion and regimental posts.  Corporal Carter was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for this action. 
The following is from a letter sent home by Corporal Carter:

  "Received a bunch of mail from you since I wrote last.  I have been pretty busy for some time past;  Have been 'over the top', helping to chase the Huns.  Have been in one of the big drives you have read so much about. You may also have read of our Division, as you know which one I belong to.  It has made a good name.  Well, I have been pretty lucky, and I feel I have somebody's good prayers.
    "A bullet just hit my elbow;  the wound was so slight I did not have to get it dressed.  Another time I had my gun shot to pieces, but one does not mind that a bit.  I just went ahead and did my duty. One knows no fear under fire. 
    I am still in the signal corps:  like it pretty well, but have found it very responsible work as the lives of comrades depend on you all the time. It's nice to go out on a telephone wire and make twenty splices in ten yards.
    "Have been pretty busy for the past few months, but it seems the close of the war is at hand.  It seems funny not to hear the guns roar.  The day the armistice was signed was the first day the music ceased to our ears since Sept. 12. 1918  I went over the top the first time on Sept. 26.  We advanced 12 miles that day and gained our objective.  We were in some tough fighting, but I escaped with a few minor experiences. You would never forget it if you were along. It was mighty uncomfortable, but something one may well be proud of.  To strike a blow for American boys is a pleasure, they never retreat, though they suffer.  Enough about war, now that the job is finished, I hope I can visit home (Ireland) before returning to the U.S.
    "Kind regards to relatives and friends,
                                                (Corporal) Michael Carter.

Source: Carter Family Collection
Photo Date: Circa 1929
Truck Company 9 assigned at Engine Company 27

  Carter was discharged from the army April 30, 1919. He returned to Bakersfield and assumed the position as engineer at the Mercy hospital without mention of his experiences of the war. He never made much of his wartime service but his comrades did.  After much investigation by newspaper reporters and friends it was finally discovered that Carter did earn the cross of honor but had stowed it away in his mess kit.
  Carter was appointed to the Los Angeles Fire Department on November 11, 1925.  On February 26, 1932 he was appointed to the position of Auto Fireman and several months later, on June 6, to Fire Captain.
  Captain Carted died on duty at a structure fire on June 9, 1950.  His company, Engine 27, had been dispatched to a fire at the Specialty Record Co., a two-story commercial building at 1107 El. Centro.  Captain Carter
collapsed while directing his company at the smoke-and-fume-filled blaze.  He apparently was overcome while standing near a doorway from which clouds of smoke were billowing.
  Rescue Unit No. 27 was called and its members worked over him for some time without avail. Carter had died before arrival at Georgia Street Receiving Hospital.
  Captain Carter was survived by his wife, Mrs. Sue Carter; two daughters, Mary M. Kearns of Highland Park and Theresa C. Koenig of Pacoima and two sons, Thomas J. of San Fernando and John of North Hollywood.  He also has five brothers.

Military Service

Personal Papers

Resolutions and Letters of Condolences  

Newspaper Articles

Alco Research Corporation Fire
Ingeborg Tillisch Kelley Collection

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