Soldier risks life to rescue civilian caught in the crossfire
'We've got to get her off that bridge'
By Jeordan Legon
(CNN) -- The elderly woman got stuck in a haze of smoke and bullets as she tried to cross a bridge south of Baghdad.
Capt. Chris Carter did not hesitate. He ordered his Bradley armored vehicle onto the bridge while he and two men followed on foot.
Taking cover from Iraqi bullets behind the bridge's iron beams, Carter tossed a smoke grenade for cover and dashed toward the crying woman.
Then the 31-year-old company commander pointed his M-16 rifle and provided cover for his men to carry the wounded woman to the safety of an ambulance.
Details of the March 31 rescue impressed readers around the world who read the account written by an Associated Press reporter riding with Carter and his troops.
But to his parents back in Watkinsville, Georgia, Carter's feat was not surprising.
"You can see they showed a lot of compassion," said his father, Michael Carter, 63. "That's Chris all the way."
The stocky soldier, who loves to hunt, fish and sing Hank Williams Jr. songs, told CNN a few weeks before he was sent into Iraq that he was ready for war.
"If our country asks us to go, we are absolutely ready to go," Carter said, looking confident standing in front of a tank in the Kuwaiti desert.
After rescuing the woman, Carter's unit -- the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division -- took control of the bridge and the whole town, Hindiya, within a matter of hours.
Searching the town's police station, they found three men who claimed they were taken prisoner for deserting the Iraqi army. Carter handed them some food rations after hearing they had not eaten in three days.
Before the day was over, Carter's troops also destroyed tons of ammunition and weapons found at the area's Baath Party headquarters.
In the days that followed, a constant stream of reports filed by The Associated Press turned Carter into a semi-battlefield celebrity -- a combination of deadly fighting machine, insightful commentator and quipster.
Take the comment he made to the AP after his troops seized Saddam Hussein's seat of power, the sprawling New Presidential Palace in central Baghdad: "I do believe this city is freakin' ours."
And then on April 14, the unit uncovered what one soldier called "Saddam's love shack," the '60s-style home of the deposed dictator's longtime mistress.
"Yeah, baaabeee," Carter joked with an AP reporter, doing his best imitation of film character Austin Powers.
His parents are collecting many of the news clippings for their son to see once he returns to Fort Stewart in Georgia.
Even though much has been reported about Carter, who joined the ROTC while attending the University of Georgia, his parents say there are still many acts of kindness the public does not know about.
Case in point: the "adopt-a-soldier" program he asked them to organize at their church in December so that his troops -- all 160 of them -- could have a wrapped present in Kuwait in time for Christmas.
"Captain Chris Carter displayed unparalleled bravery on the battlefield to save an innocent Iraqi woman," said U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia. "He loves his family, his country, not to mention fishing and Hank Williams Jr., too. Now that's my kind of all American hero."
Note: In every war there are acts of extraordinary courage where an individual, military or civilian, goes beyond what is expected to avert conflict, save lives or otherwise achieve an extraordinary mission. This special section highlights the acts of a few individuals who -- through feats of courage, nobility of purpose or life-risking situations -- have become "Heroes of War."