Air National Guard Capt. Darin Overstreet
CENTENNIAL, Colo. – With dozens of service members, family members, friends and veterans in attendance, the Colorado National Guard will dedicate its Army Aviation Support Facility on Buckley Air Force Base to a fallen Soldier Aug. 6 at 10 a.m.
It will be the two-year anniversary of the death of Chief Warrant Officer 5 David R. Carter, whose life came to an abrupt end Aug. 6, 2011.
Scheduled to speak at the ceremony is Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Frank. J. Grass, who is also the National Guard’s representative on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Also speaking will be Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, adjutant general of Colorado and commander of the Colorado National Guard.
Carter was one of 30 American service members –Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen – along with seven Afghan soldiers, an interpreter and a working dog, who died Aug. 6, 2011, in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, when an insurgent-fired rocket-propelled grenade struck their CH-47 Chinook helicopter, call sign Extortion 17.
The incident is still known as the worst single loss of military life since operations began in the war-torn country.
However, there is no doubt among his friends, family and peers that Carter died doing what he loved: flying.
This was his second combat deployment, and according to those who knew him best, he was an extraordinary Soldier and a phenomenal pilot who amassed more than 4,500 total flight hours – 1,000 of them during combat operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
He was also dedicated to saving lives.
“Dave had that unique ability to be very personable yet always staying professional,” said Colorado Army National Guard State Aviation Officer Lt. Col Joshua Day. “He was always willing to accept any mission and always available to go to any type of training. He would assume leadership roles without hesitation and always excelled in them.”
Carter’s remains returned to Colorado Aug. 18, 2011.
Family and friends gathered at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora to welcome the fallen pilot as his flag-draped coffin was lowered from a chartered jet. Hundreds of men and women representing all five service branches lined Buckley’s streets, elbow to elbow, to pay their respects as his motorcade passed.
Carter’s friends portrayed him as a giver, stating that he didn’t know how to say “no.” His passion was for his family, his friends and flying. His mustache-laced smile and twinkling blue eyes could light up a room, and that’s what people remember the best about him, his wife, Laura, said.
In a letter sent home by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Andy Bellotti, who was still serving in Afghanistan with the 2-135th GSAB as Carter was laid to rest Aug. 19, 2011, described Carter as “the cornerstone of the company.”
“He is irreplaceable. He was the teacher and the master aviator. The foundation. He loved all of us and helped us with everything. His integrity was unshakeable. He helped maintain the family that is Bravo Company, 2-135th Aviation,” he said in his letter read at Carter’s memorial service.
Carter was an instructor pilot and member of Detachment 1, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 135th General Support Aviation (2-135th GSAB), 89th Troop Command, Colorado Army National Guard.
“He loved to fly,” Day said. “He loved to learn new aviation technologies. Even as a National Guardsmen, he was one of the first CH-47D pilots in the Army to become qualified in the CH-47F. He eagerly went to this training so that he could begin training the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade at the High-altitude Army National Guard Training Site in Gypsum, Colo. He would frequently volunteer to help out at HAATS when the school house was short CH-47 instructor pilots.”
Afghanistan was Carter’s second combat deployment with the 2-135th GSAB. He departed for his last deployment in May 2011. His previous deployment was to Iraq in 2006-07 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“He touched every aviation unit in Colorado in some manner,” Day said. “He even flew the C-26 with Detachment 33. He was a great pilot, but more important, he was a great teacher in the cockpit. His biggest military legacy will be the numerous aviators in Colorado and elsewhere whom he helped train and mentor.”
Carter joined the Kansas National Guard in December 1983 and served first as a military police officer. He came to Colorado from the Kansas Army National Guard in May 1988. Upon completing the Warrant Officer Rotary Wing Aviation Course, he served in his first pilot position with the Colorado Army National Guard as an AH-1, Cobra pilot. During his military career, CW5 Carter also flew the UH-1 Iroquois (Huey), the C-12 Huron, the C-26 and the CH-47 D and F model Chinooks.
“I am one of the lucky ones who got to fly and learn from Dave,” Day said. “In a nutshell, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Carter was that go-to officer any commander could depend on.”
Carter supported numerous missions spanning nearly three decades of service to his nation. These included dozens of search and rescue missions in the high alpine regions of the Rocky Mountains, several crashed aircraft recoveries, support to wildland firefighting operations and a statewide manhunt in support of law enforcement.
He was always first to volunteer when his countrymen were in need, to include assignments in support of Hurricane Katrina and later to Texas in support of Hurricane Gustav with the CH-47s to augment local responders in an area completely devastated by the hurricane and the ensuing floods.
He served a tour in Iraq during the surge of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2006-07. This is where he gained valuable experience conducting operations with Special Forces units.
Carter’s military decorations include a Master Army Aviation Badge, two Air Medals, seven Army Achievement Medals, Army Aviation Badge, Senior Army Aviation Badge, a Combat Action Badge, an Army Service Ribbon, two National Defense Service Medals, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, an Iraqi Campaign Medal, two Armed Forces Reserve Medals with "M" devices, Overseas Service Ribbon, and several state decorations including the Long Service Medal, Foreign Deployment Service Medal, Active Service Medal, and an emergency service medal.
He also received an emergency service medal from Louisiana for his support in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
More information about Carter can be found at You Will Be Missed Dave Carter, the Facebook page honoring his memory.
The Carter family wishes this event to be celebratory in nature, however, at this time, the family does not wish to be interviewed. Any media requests, aside from event attendance, must be vetted through the Colorado National Guard Public Affairs Office.
FOR ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Media wishing to attend this event should arrive at the Mississippi Gate of Buckley Air Force Base, just east of Tower Road in Aurora, no later than 9:15 a.m. Media vehicles must pass through the commercial vehicle lane. Media must provide current identification, vehicle registration, proof of insurance and media credentials. Media will be escorted to the Army Aviation Support Facility no later than 9:30 a.m. The Carter family wishes this event to be celebratory in nature, however, at this time, the family does not wish to be interviewed. Any media requests, aside from event attendance, must be vetted through the Colorado National Guard Public Affairs Office.
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