A Profile of Captain Bernie Carter
Captain Bernie Carter was born the eldest sibling of a family of 12 on January 1st, 1960. From the time he was a child he knew he was different and would excel in life. I am lucky enough to have met a man with so many accolades in his life, as well as to be able to call him family(he is my first cousin once removed on my mother’s side of the family).
Carter always had a strong work ethic and knew that from hard work and determination one could achieve anything. When I interviewed him I wanted to know where he felt his leadership abilities came from, “Well, I think I’m a natural leader, and that everyone is born with qualities for leadership, but I really credit my time playing sports for the development of my leadership skills. I worked hard learned how to be apart of a team, and what an important life skill that is.”
And while he balanced school, and being an athletic star, he still managed to work, “I was a little hustler when I was a kid, I started working for my father when I was 12 or 13, you know little jobs… and when I was in high school, I drove a bus, but still made time for school and sports, but thats how I was raised. If you wanted something you worked hard for it, and if you committed yourself to something you gave it your all.”
A natural athlete Carter played any sport he could in high school. “I played football, basketball, ran track, I was a real jock.” He was so impressive he earned himself a football scholarship to the Citadel, one of the nation’s most prestigious military colleges located in Charleston, South Carolina.
I asked Carter what was college like for him, as a black man in the 1970’s, and if he was involved in any public or community service efforts back then, “Absolutely, when I went to the Citadel, there weren’t very many other black students, but it was the 1970’s and we had a little African-American club we were very involved with and very aware of what was going on within our community. Most of us were jocks, and there were a few of us who were just students, but we were a close nit bunch.”
It was during this time that he met his lovely wife Bridget, “Well, we met in 1975, but we started dating in 1976.” And 36 years later she is his wife and mother of their 3 children, Justin, 28, Courtney, 26, and Adam, 24.
Carter was blessed enough to receive personal and professional growth alongside one another, from 1983 to 1990, his initial sea and shore rotations were as lead instructor for the Anti-Submarine warfare Commander’s course located at the Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare center in Norfolk, Va.; Fire Control and Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer, USS Yorktown (CG 48); and Main Propulsion Assistant on USS McCandless (FF-1084). During these tours he completed deployments to the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean.
From July 1991 through May 1994, he served as Weapons and Combat Systems Officer onboard the USS Lake Champlain (CG 57). During this tour, Carter completed two Persian Gulf deployments as Air Defense Commander (ADC) for the Lincoln and Nimitz Battle Groups.
As a student from 1994 to 1995, attending the Army’s Command and General Staff College, located in Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., he completed the Joint Professional Military Education (JMPE phase I) and received a Master of Military Arts and Sciences (MMAS) degree.
He served onboard the USS Cole (DDG 67) as the Executive Officer from June 1997 until September 1998. During his time as XO, he completed a deployment to the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. From July 1995 to November 1997, he was a Resource sponsor (N86) for guns, missiles, and small firearms for the Chief of Naval Operations.
From October 1998 until October 2000, he served as Chief, Advanced Technology/Technology Risk Assessment for the Technology Assessment under the Directorate for Intelligence Production (DI) Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).
Carter served as the first Commanding Officer of USS Shoup (DDG-86) from May 2001 to August 2003. He completed all pre-commissioning work up cycles and exercises and fired over 21 missiles to include 10 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, Naval Gun Fire Support Exercises, Torpedo exercises, and Helicopter Anti-Submarine exercises with precision results.
He was EA and MPT&E Section Head to the Director for Capability Assessments (N81) from October 2004 to November 2007. From August 2003 to Sept 2004, Carter served as Chief of Staff of Expeditionary Strike Group 2 completing a deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
He previously served as the N12 Branch Head for Manpower Acquisitions for the Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower Personnel Training and Education, where he was responsible for managing and tracking of Manpower Requirements and Training as they pertain to new platform acquisitions.He currently is director of Navy Safe Harbor, overseeing all activities associated with supporting the Navy and Coast Guard’s seriously wounded, ill, and injured service members.
Finally I asked Carter through out his life, in playing the role of leader professionally, and in teaching his children what it means to be a strong and progressive black man what lessons does he try to or has tried to impart on those lives he has touched, “Well a positive attitude is important, but I always wanted to remind them to be a productive person, whether they are working, going to school, or recovering from a personal hardship, they should set goals and stay active make sure they are giving back to the greater community.”
This last statement reminded me of one of our in class discussions about the fractured sense of black community and how it is important for successful individuals like Carter has shown by example to lift as we climb.
Upon first glance Carter is a great man who has achieved an admirable amount of success, upon second glance he might not appear to be a traditional progressive black male as he has appeared to fit into the world of traditional patriarchy, but those who would think so would be wrong. Throughout his life he has shown he is a capable gentleman, he possesses a sound mind and sound body, family is important to him, he is economically mobile, on the greater scale of things he is a warrior who has served his country and served his ethnic community as an example of what kind of men we can become.