115th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division
Plot I, Row 15, Grave 9
Capt. Elmer Norval Carter was a family doctor in Huntington, W. Va. prior to joining the Army. He served as a battalion surgeon in the 1stBattalion, 115thInfantry Regiment, 29thInfantry Division during the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
He wrote in a letter home to his wife, Fernie, on June 4, 1944, two days before the landings:
But we realize we are fighting for a way of living that is fundamentally right in the eyes of God and man, and the ideals of the enemy are wrong. Therefore we are not fighting for our own hides but for you folks back home and for people everywhere. I look about the deck at the men. It is a terrible thing to know that in 24 hours some are not going to even be able to enjoy what we intend to win. All of us think of home, our wives, children, and parents, and hope that we can see them again but it is a finality that we shall not. Let us hope that those who are killed have not died in vain. That when this conflict is over men and women will insist on a fair distribution of sociological rights to every country, enemy, ally, and neutral.
Carter landed on Fox Green sector of Omaha Beach just below the site where the Normandy American Cemetery is located today. He marched up the winding path below the observation point of the cemetery. During the climb, he treated a number of GIs who had stepped on mines and had severe leg wounds. Upon cresting the bluff, Carter’s unit marched across the land of the present-day cemetery east toward Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer. Carter would end up walking on the soil of the future cemetery site where he would later be interred. As the 115thfought its way towards Isigny and then on to St. Lô, Carter worked at aid stations helping the severely wounded GIs brought to him.
Unlike most battalion surgeons, Carter persistently went out to the front lines in order to aid his comrades. On June 19, 1944, he ventured out into a road opposite Bois de Bretel near St. Lô in order to save a fellow 29th division soldier, and in doing so he was shot by a German sniper though he was clearly wearing his Red Cross helmet and brassards. Carter was survived by his wife and his two sons.
Awards: Silver Star, Purple Heart
Elmer N. Carter is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot I, Row 15, Grave 9.