My name is Aaron L. Carter. I was born in Texarkana, Arkansas, on 29 October 1946. My parents divorced in 1956, and my brother and I moved to Los Angeles, California with our mother.
I attended Van Nuys Junior High School where I studied music, and played the bass viol. My favorite subjects were music, art, science, and history. I attended John Marshall High School where I majored in Industrial Arts. I loved my high school experience. Classes included print shop, auto shop, and wood shop. My favorite class was metal shop. My teacher was Gil Henschke, who became a father figure to me. He was a great mentor.
In August of 1965 I joined the U.S. Marine Corps. Because of my high school shop experience, I did very well on the military mechanical aptitude test, and my recruiter enlisted me as a helicopter crewman. After boot camp, I attended the Naval Aviation Technical Training school at Memphis, Tennessee. I graduated with honors in the spring of 1966.
In August of 1966, I was transferred to a Medium Marine Helicopter squadron at Phu Bai, in the Republic of South Vietnam. I served as a helicopter gunner and crew chief until September of 1968. During my tour of duty in Vietnam, I was shot down eight times. Don’t be overly impressed. This was no squadron record. Several combat aircrew members had similar records of close encounters of the worst kind.
My final nine months in the Marine Corps were at El Toro Air Facility near Tustin, California. We operated two Search & Rescue helicopters there. It took a while to get used to flying in a helicopter without guns, but the change offered comforting peace of mind.
I received an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps in 1971, and began racing formula Vee racing cars as an amateur driver. I made a living as a mechanic. The next few years were difficult for me. I was suffering from the symptoms of PTSD, although it wasn’t recognized by the VA as such. Back then they called it battle fatigue. The only counseling available at the time was, “You’re a combat Marine! Get over it!” Looking for solace, I discovered The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I served two years as a proselyting missionary in Sweden, beginning in May of 1976.
I married a great girl in 1979 who had just returned from her LDS mission to Australia. We’ve been married for over forty years, have four children, and seven grandchildren.
In 1979, I began working as a commercial helicopter pilot and flight instructor. It didn’t take long to see that living the dream of being a career aviator conflicted with my desire to have a meaningful family life. Much of the flying I did was as a “contract” pilot. This would take me great distances from home for months at a time. As time went by, I began to feel that living the dream was more like enduring a nightmare. On the job, away from home, the only time I was truly happy was when I was flying. But, at the end of a day of flying, all I had to enrich my life was a drab motel room. Finally, my wife and I had a heart-to-heart. I had already realized the difference between temporary happiness, and true joy. My wife was in total support of my decision to change my career path. Owing to this, on 13 August 1988, I hung up my flight helmet for the last time, and began working on a new career.
In August of 1988, I began working as Director of Training with Hyster Company in Southern California. It was the best decision I ever made for me and my family. Today, I can say that I’ve been married for over 40 years to the best woman I’ve ever known. For me, she is perfect. I have four children that know and love their father. Not by way of Facebook, but by personal relationship. I have five grandchildren, and more are on the way. Life is good.
I retired from Hyster Company in February of 2012, and began a much anticipated final career of creative writing. In 2013, I self-published a book entitled, Boyhood Adventures. It is a work of fiction based on true-to-life experiences of three eight-year-old boys living in Texarkana, Arkansas, circa 1950. The 2nd. edition of this book will be launched in April of 2021. The book follows the boys as they engage in nocturnal adventures at venues such as a haunted house, a local cemetery noted for paranormal activity, and an abandoned asylum; also infamously renowned for housing restless spirits. Much of what is written in the book is true.
I am currently working on a novel entitled, Wings of Valor; a work of historical fiction. It tells the story of men who served as combat aircrew members aboard Sikorsky UH-34D helicopters in the Republic of South Vietnam between March of 1966 and September of 1968. This book should be available by October, 2022.
Book three on my agenda is another historical fiction novel. The Troubleshooter is set in the European theater of the Second World War, beginning in 1944. The story follows the experience of a U.S. intelligence officer (Captain Frank West) recently graduated from Camp X in Canada. As the story begins, he is in hot pursuit of a sadistic German Waffen SS Oberfürer. This particularly sadistic monster is responsible for the execution of over 200 members of the French and Dutch underground, as well as twenty-six American and Allied escaped (and recaptured) prisoners of war. Captain West is incensed when ordered to stand down in his mission to bring Oberfürer Alfwin Engel to justice. Not only that, but his orders now require Capt. West to facilitate the SS monster to escape from occupied Germany, and to insert him in a safe haven in Venezuela. From that point, the plot thickens.