PHOENIX – Pfc. Edwin L. Carter was home in Phoenix just a week after successfully completing Advanced Individual Training to be an Army truck driver. It was the evening of July 28, and Carter, who is a National Guard soldier with the 222nd Transportation Company out of Florence, Ariz., was driving to get pizza with two other friends.
It started out as a typical night with three companions, but soon turned to a life-changing event leaving one soldier in critical condition and near death and Carter being credited by his unit for saving his friend Spc. Rashaad Gregory.
During a ceremony today, Carter was presented the Arizona Distinguished Service Medal at the Pettycrew Armory in Phoenix for his courageous efforts. It’s the Arizona Army National Guard’s second highest award.
Carter and his friends were traveling down 99th Ave. near Camelback Rd. on their way to pick up a pizza, said Carter. They were passing an apartment complex when another vehicle made a turn into the complex and the two vehicles collided he said.
When the vehicle stopped, Carter was the only one conscious and he could see that his friends needed help.
Gregory, an air conditioner and refrigeration repairer, with the 3666th Support Maintenance Company in Phoenix, Ariz., was in the back seat unconscious and another friend was unconscious in the front passenger’s seat said Carter.
That’s when Carter’s recent military training kicked into effect and he went to work.
Carter said he first rendered aid to his friend in the passenger’s seat and then went over to Gregory.
The extent of Gregory’s injuries were unknown to Carter, however, he credits his military first aid training for knowing he needed to control the bleeding and support the injured soldier’s head to prevent further injuries.
Carter said he checked Gregory’s pulse and observed him bleeding from his mouth.
Concerned Gregory would choke on his own body fluids, he removed him from the vehicle, making sure his head and neck where supported until paramedics arrived.
Carter’s actions, supporting Gregory’s head and neck, and the actions of the first responders are credited for saving Gregory’s life, said Gregory’s surgeon.
Along with severe internal trauma, Gregory suffered what is called occipitocervical dislocation, more commonly referred to an internal decapitation, which means, the skull and spine became detached.
In an interview with Edwin Carter, Sr., Pfc. Carter’s father, Carter said he is extremely proud of his son.
“I don’t know if I would have done the same thing,” said Carter, Sr. “I may have panicked, you know, with the adrenaline in an accident like that. I’m proud of the training he received from the Guard enabling him to render aid to his buddy.”