W. R. "Mac" McCarter, Jr.
On June 9th, 1942, Wilbur R “Mac” McCarter made his way to the Marine Recruiter in Phoenix, Arizona and raised his right hand. He was 19.
Within four months, he found himself in the South Pacific with “F” Company, Second Battalion, Sixth Marines, Second Marine Division, FMF. From January 4th to February 19th, 1943, he and his fellow Marines fought against the Imperial Japanese Army during the Battle of Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands Campaign. It was the first major land offensive against the Japanese. He saw action again later that year in the fight for Tarawa Atoll, located in the Gilbert Islands, from November 20th through the 28th of 1943. Then, from June 15th through July 9th of 1944 he fought in the battle for Saipan, and then Tinian from July 21st through August 1st. Both are part of the Mariana Islands. In one of the aforementioned battles, he was deployed in the first landing.
Corporal W.R. McCarter Jr. was discharged from the Marine Corps Air Station in El Centro, California in October of 1945, where he had served as an M.P. This followed a months-long visit to the Naval Hospital in Klamath Falls, Oregon with malaria, which pursued him into the 1960s.
In 1948, a few years after Mac had returned home to Phoenix, he decided to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserves (USMCR), to make a little extra cash.
In June of 1950, when the North Koreans crossed the 38th Parallel provoking the Korean War, the Marine Reserves were called to duty. As a Sergeant, Mac was an Infantry Weapons Armorer in “B” Company, 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, FMF. His outfit participated in the battles against the North Korean People’s Army for the cities of Inchon and Seoul in September of 1950. Then in late November of 1950, the Chinese People’s Army entered the war. In bitterly cold conditions that were unimaginable, Mac fought aside other Marines and Army units against the Chinese in the Battle for Chosin Reservoir. The Marines and Soldiers totaling approximately 30,000 troops were greatly outnumbered and encircled by over 120,000 Chinese forces. The Americans had to fight their way back to the Port of Hungnam. Temperatures during this period were breaking records and reaching negative 50 degrees F.
As was too common with the troops exposed to the extreme cold in that particular climb, Mac’s extremities were marked for life by the effects of frostbite.
In early 1951, shortly after the Battle of Chosin Reservoir ended, Mac returned home once more, this time to his wife Jerry Joy, to the family they had started at the end of WWII.
He typified the steadfast, confident Marine, comfortable, yet humble in reflecting about his Marine brothers and his service. Of his reflections regarding his deployments in 1942, then in 1950, one of his common remarks his two sons recall is, “I never knew a Navy Corpsman I didn’t like.”
Born on December 31, 1922 in Phoenix, Arizona, later in life to typify a soft-spoken, deeply respected husband and dad, he passed away in Phoenix on December 5, 1991 at the age of 68. His burial was at Double Butte Cemetery in Tempe, Arizona on December 7th with military honors. It was 50 years to the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.