Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Ty Carter overcame painful past as Marine


President Obama applauds Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, left, who received the Medal of Honor on Monday. (Associated Press photo)

Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter received the Medal of Honor this afternoon, a fitting tribute to a man who repeatedly braved enemy fire in Afghanistan while defending Combat Outpost Keating from a fierce Taliban attack in 2009.

Before serving in the Army, however, Carter served as a Marine — and overcame a significant family tragedy.

According to Carter’s hometown newspaper in Spokane, Wash., the newest Medal of Honor recipient’s brother was killed by a drunken friend playing with a shotgun at a party in 2000. Carter was a 20-year-old Marine serving in Okinawa, Japan, at the time:

The brothers grew up together in Spokane, but they took different paths into adulthood, said their father, Mark Carter.

Ty preferred the discipline of sports, leading him to join the Marines after he graduated from North Central High School. He became an excellent marksman. Seth, meanwhile, struggled to find his place in life before he died at age 22.

He fell in with the wrong crowd, said his dad. “He didn’t get his chance.”

After Ty’s plane touched down, he connected with his family and went to see Seth’s remains.

“He didn’t even get out of his military duds,” Mark Carter said. “He and we all went together to the morgue to identify Seth. All of us broke down at the same time.”

As reported previously, Carter left the Marine Corps in 2002, after getting busted down a rank to lance corporal for fighting with another Marine. He eventually decided to give the military another try, joining the Army in 2008.

It looks like that has worked out for him well. Congratulations, Staff Sgt. Carter.


About Author

I'm a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.


  1. I have to agree with Dave. While he may have had a painful experience in life, that has nothing to do with his conduct as a Marine. This headline implies something of that nature. Getting busted down for fighting is something that happens on the reg. I’m sure he was an outstanding Marine, as well as he obviously is an outstanding Soldier.

    Semper Fi SSgt. Job well done.

  2. His brother died, which while tragic, had nothing to do with his service. What kindergarten journalism class did you idiots fail to get a headline like this?

  3. Major life events, such as early and tragic deaths of siblings can most definitely alter one’s life path and decisions. So, Dave, I would have to disagree with your preposition that one’s life (military service) is not affected by the events in which it occurs.

  4. I don’t believe SSgt Carter is making any ‘excuses’. So O T H whatever you are eluding too, may be irrelevant .

  5. SSgt Carter, If you are in the state at the time? It is requested, if possible? We would like to know, being you are a Washingtonian; if you would be availble to be a guest speaker at our annual “Veterans Day” observance? We would be honered and priviledged if you could be here to talk with us. Please feel free to contact myself:
    Jared Barela
    Master Sergeant
    USMC (retired)

  6. When is the Command going to take some responsibility for the loss of life at this base? As a former Infantry Marine of 14 years and now an Army Officer of 24 years, all I have to say is what a sloppy job by the command right down to the LT at this base. I have listened to the stories by both MOH winners and even watched the video taken by the Taliban and here are my questions?

    1. Was there pre-planned fires documented to support this base?

    2. Why were there no smoke grenades used during this attack?

    A simple risk assessment of this base would have shown it was an easy target. It could be attacked on all sides. I have been in countless exercises where we had to map out pre planned targets even for air support. I don’t believe they had any.

    I have also been on many exercises where we used smoke grenades. It would have been perfect in this situation. Smoke grenades in a valley would have lingered for some time. One story I listed too talked about three or four soldiers traped in a Humvee. They could not get out because they would draw sniper fire. A few smoke grenades would have given them the cover to get out of the vehicle and would have saved lives.

    So tell me – Where is there any accountability for this failure? Granted that there were hero’s who went above and beyond but you have people who have escaped accountability.

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