The Sustainers of the Service League of Natchitoches celebrated Veterans Day at their monthly luncheon on Nov. 13. Dr. Margaret Wheat Carter spoke about her experiences as a veteran and about the experiences of several of her family members in the military. Dr. Carter was an Assistant Surgeon in the United States Public Health Service, a non-combat branch of the services headed by the Surgeon General. She spent her time in New Orleans serving at the US Public Health Service Hospital on State Street which is now Children’s Hospital of New Orleans. During her time she treated a variety of patients from pregnant mothers in labor to those needing emergency appendectomies. She served during hurricane Betsy, helping those injured by the massive storm. She would later spend her career as an ophthalmologist.
Dr. Carter is part of a family with a long history of service to country. Her only sibling, a brother, served in the United States Air Force. Her father was a navy officer who served in both World War I and World War II. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese military attacked. Fortunately, he was an officer on the USS Maryland which sustained minimal damage and he survived the attack. His ship was next to the USS Oklahoma which capsized. He was part of the effort to remove sailors from the vessel, some trying to drill holes in the ships hull to provide escape for those who were trapped. Also present at Pearl Harbor was a 19 year-old cousin who served on the USS Arizona. He is listed among those lost that day.
Dr. Carter’s first husband, Dr. Reginald Wheat, Sr. (1938-1993), was a navy physician. He was called to active duty in Vietnam and served as a field doctor with the Marine Corp. He provided medical care on the battle field and helped secure air transports for wounded soldiers. Dr. Carter’s second husband, Billy Carter (1937-2018), served in the United States Air Force. He was a veterinary technician assigned to the NASA program where he worked with monkeys who would be launched into space.
Following Dr. Carter’s presentation, Brenda Melder presented her with a donation made by the Sustainers of the Service League of Natchitoches to the Women’s Resource Center in memory of Billy Carter who passed away in October. The Sustainers of the Service League of Natchitoches are grateful to Dr. Margaret Wheat Carter for sharing her stories and her family’s stories about their service. Most of all, we are grateful to Dr. Carter and all of those who have served and currently serve in all branches of service. Thank you for all that you have given and continue to give.