Now that Maj. Chuck Carter is home after being deployed in Afghanistan, he is looking forward to doing things many Americans take for granted.
“I want to walk on grass. I want to drive, and I want a thick, juicy steak,” Carter said Saturday afternoon, moments after setting foot in Nevils for the first time in 10½ months.
Carter returned to Fort Benning on Saturday morning with his unit, the Georgia Army National Guard’s 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. His wife, Cindy, picked him up and drove him back to Nevils for a surprise homecoming.
More than 30 people —children from Nevils Elementary, where Cindy Carter is a fourth-grade teacher, and Nevils Trinity Baptist Church, along with other family members and friends — gathered at the church parking lot on Nevils Denmark Road to welcome him.
Five Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office patrol cruisers and a Bulloch County fire truck escorted the Carters to the church.
Children, with help from some adults, unfurled a large banner with the words “Welcome Home” written in colorful block letters. Two women held a sign that read, “Welcome home Chuck,” with a stem from an American flag forming an exclamation point on top of the phrase, “We missed you.”
“It just reaffirms why I live where I live,” Maj. Carter said. “The community of Nevils and Bulloch County is really a special place to live. … Just a heartfelt return -- the community outpouring was unbelievable.”
Carter has served with the National Guard for more than 24 years.
“The Georgia Army National Guard has been good to me; it’s been good to my family, wonderful experiences,” he said. “I’ve been able to serve in Iraq, Egypt and now Afghanistan.”
When Carter is not deployed, he helps manage a National Guard training facility on Fort Stewart.
“I intend to keep serving in the Georgia Army National Guard as long as they’ll have me,” he said.
Cindy Carter said that, when they first got married, she didn’t understand her husband’s devotion to the military. She thought when he reached a milestone, such as five or 10 years of service, he would get out. These days, she does understand, and she is proud of him.
“He’s taught me so much,” she said. “He really is dedicated to the United States. It doesn’t matter who the president is or what’s going on, he really does love his country.”
While her husband was gone, Carter said many friends and neighbors stepped in do such things as mow the lawn or pay for a meal at church, in some cases without even asking. Maj. Carter also has missed watching his sons, who are the starting quarterbacks this year at Southeast Bulloch High School (Cole Carter) and Southeast Bulloch Middle (Caleb Carter). Their daughter, Christen Carter, cheered for Southeast Bulloch Middle and High before graduating last year.
So after Maj. Carter savors that thick, juicy steak, what will he do next? His wife has an idea.
“My dishwasher hasn’t worked in about eight weeks, so I told him that was the first thing on his honey-do list for me,” she said, laughing. “Actually, getting back involved in football —the boys play football — and he loves being out there.”
Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9431.