Harvey McCarter – United States Air Force
In 1957, upon graduation from Kansas State University, Fairview resident, Harvey McCarter was commissioned through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). He entered pilot training at Moore Air Force Base in Mission, Texas. McCarter said, “I always wanted to fly and the ROTC allowed me to do that. At that time, the Air Force was training a lot of pilots. When I completed training, they were not training as many.” He was 21-years-old when he was commissioned as an officer as a 2nd Lieutenant.
McCarter served for 37 years as both active guard and reserve. When he retired, he was a major general. He said he chose this length of time to serve because, “I enjoyed the work. I was flying most of the time.” From 1960 – 67 he flew the T-33, F-86L, F-100C and F-100F when he served with the Kansas and Iowa Air National Guard units. He was also a commercial pilot with Trans World Airlines (TWA) and KLM.
Over the years he had many responsibilities in the military. He was a pilot, squadron operations officer, director of training for wing (two squadrons), wing vice commander and others. He served in the pentagon twice: From 1982 – 83 he was the planning and programming officer for the Western Hemisphere Division. In 1987, he was the mobilization assistant to the vice commander in chief. He received his first star while serving as vice commander, 14th Air Force, Dobbins Air Force Base, GA and his second star during his second trip to the pentagon.
McCarter said one of his major job responsibilities when he was the mobilization assistant was keeping active duty aware of what reservists could do. He said, “Most reservists had come off of active duty and had the same abilities as active duty. If they hadn’t met with us, they didn’t know what we could do.”
McCarter does not consider himself a Vietnam veteran. He only spent 10 hours in Vietnam when he flew a load there. He said, “I sent a lot of airplanes there.”
He retired from the military and from flying commercially in 1993. He was then hired as a manager by Flight Safety International which is an airplane training organization.
When asked if he was able to turn back time and had the option to sign up to serve or not, he said he would definitely sign up again. He said, “I grew up knowing freedom isn’t free because my father served in the Army during WWII.” He referenced rationing that he and his family experienced, “I know what it’s like to go without. I learned to appreciate what I have. We were sacrificing for one reason – to protect those who were protecting our freedom.”
He always knew he wanted to be a pilot. He remembers, as a child, sitting in a cardboard mock-cockpit. He said being in the Air Force gave him all the skills to do what he loves to do. He absolutely recommends a career in the military.
“The general is a command pilot with more than 16,000 military and commercial flying hours. His military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Combat Readiness Medal with five oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with six oak leaf clusters, Armed Forces Reserve medal with tow hourglass devices, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Air Force Training Ribbon and Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm.” (United Air Force Biography – 1992)