Connecticut Joint Force Headquarters Command Chief Master Sergeant John Carter III bid farewell to the Flying Yankees and the Connecticut National Guard May 4 after more than 30 years of service.
As the state command chief, he was responsible for advising the adjutant general on matters concerning the welfare, health, morale, proper utilization and progress of the Air enlisted force. Additionally, he recently retired after 26 years from the Connecticut State Police where he served as a polygraph examiner and a legislative liaison.
Carter was first exposed to the Connecticut National Guard in 1983 through the Camp Grasso youth camps and Comprehensive Employment and Training Act summer work programs at both Camp Hartell and the Bradley Air National Guard base working with the base financial management office. That same year, he enlisted into the Flying Yankees and began his career as an air crew life support specialist. In this capacity he worked full-time as a technician and an Active Guard Reserve member for five years before joining the Connecticut State Police in 1988. Continuing his service as a traditional guardsman, Carter supported numerous state-side and overseas deployments with the 118th Fighter Wing.
In September 2002, Carter entered a new phase in his career when was selected to become a first sergeant. He would continue to hold positions within the 103rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, the 103rd Fighter Wing, and later the 103rd Airlift Wing over the coming years. In March of 2008, he deployed as the first sergeant to Joint Base Balad in Iraq. There he stood up both the 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Group and Squadron and provided leadership to more than 300 Airmen.
Upon returning from deployment, Carter transitioned into the role as chief of airfield management, 103rd Operations Group. Shortly after, he was selected to serve as the state command chief of the Connecticut Air National Guard where he served out the remainder of his military career.
Carter has provided active support to more than 1,000 Airmen during the most tumultuous period in the Connecticut National Guard’s history, while continuing his full-time service with the Connecticut State Police. His tireless and compassionate leadership was instrumental as the state endured multiple mission changes stemming from the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission and numerous Air Force right-sizing initiatives. Over a period of nine years as state command chief, Carter helped guide the closing of an air operations group, a centralized repair facility, as well as a guard-wide review of the enlisted force grade structure. His leadership and dedication to the force ensured that not a single Airman lost his or her job and the Connecticut Air National Guard’s enlisted force maintained appropriate grade allocations as the base converted to the C-130H aircraft mission.
Despite the many challenges Carter has faced over the thirty plus years of his career, repeatedly taking risks and stepping outside of his comfort zone has admittedly been his biggest. He also admits that by taking on his challenges, he has been able to continually grow as a both a person and a leader. After stepping into the role as state command chief, he says that it has been the ability to touch each individual of the enlisted force and help them succeed in their military careers that has been the most rewarding.
As Carter departs the Flying Yankees and begins the next phase in his life, the members of the Connecticut Air National Guard thank him for his leadership and unwavering dedication to service and the Airmen of the 103rd Airlift Wing. He departs having felt that he has made a difference and is confident to pass the torch knowing the future of the 103rd Airlift Wing is strong and the mission is secure. To all the Airmen and Soldiers who have been fortunate to work with Chief Carter, he leaves us with, “this is not goodbye, but so long, for I am sure that we will cross paths again in the future.”