Carrier, Chester E. (899th)

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Biography:  Chester Elbert Carrier was born on October 18, 1919 in Oden, Arkansas.  He was the son of Elbert Carrier and Martha Wilhite and attended school in Westor, Arkansas, through the 8th grade. In addition to working on the family farm, Chester worked as a carpenter.

He enlisted in the Arkansas National Guard on July 23, 1940, briefly serving with the Medical Detachment, 206th CA (Coast Artillery), until October 1, 1940. He immediately reenlisted on October 2nd.

Service Time:  Chester’s National Guard unit was Federalized on January 6, 1941, initially serving in the Coast Guard Artillery. He then transferred to the Reconnaissance Company of the 899th Tank Destroyer Battalion, initially serving as a driver. He was later made a section leader and then a platoon sergeant, responsible for searching out the enemy, determining their strength, documenting and reporting his findings.

The 899th shipped out from the New York port on January 13, 1943, and arrived at Casablanca, Morroco, on January 26, 1943. They were issued new M10’s and deployed to the Gafsa-El Guettar sector of Tunisia on March 16, 1943. The unit established the first American contact with the British Eighth Army on 7 April, 1943. and later arrived at Naples, Italy, on November 10, 1943. They almost immediately shifted to the United Kingdom with some liaison personnel accompanying the second glider lift of the 82d Airborne Division during the invasion of Normandy. The rest of the battalion landed at Utah Beach on D-Day and helped capture Cherbourg in late June. The 899th supported the Cobra breakout in late July and advanced through Mayenne.

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The photo on left was probably taken at the end of the war since he is wearing his service ribbons. The photo on right was much later during his National Guard service and probably near his retirement, at the rank of 1st Sergeant.

The unit entered Belgium on September 2, they backed the 9th Infantry Division operations in the vicinity of Monschau and Hofen, Germany. Fighting in the Rötgen/Hürtgen Forest region in October, elements were deployed in the first days of Battle of the Bulge to stop the German advance while others remained in the VII Corps area. They then supported the attack to capture the Roer River dams in February, 1945, and largely converted to M36’s that same month. After crossing the Roer River on February 28, they advanced to the Rhine River near Bad Godesberg with the first elements crossing into the Remagen bridgehead on March 8. They joined the attack on the Ruhr Pocket in April and then moved east into the Harz Mountains before moving to the Mulde River for link-up with Soviet forces on April 27. They began occupational duty in Bernburg May 3, 1945.

The 899th received credit for campaigns in Tunisia, Rome-Arno, Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe. Chester received the Bronze Star, American Defense Medal, EAME Service Medal, and the Good Conduct medal.  He left the service at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas, separation center at the rank of Staff Sergeant.

Bronze Star Certificate

Chester-E-Carrier-2.pngChester returned to Arkansas and married the former Mollie B. Webb, who was born in Carbon Hill, Alabama.  She was the daughter of Walter Webb and Ludie Bailey. The new couple had one daughter, Martha and they also raised a son, Robert, from Mollie’s previous marriage.

Chester owned and operated a grocery store and was also a rural postal carrier in Marianna, Arkansas. He joined the 206th Artillery of the Arkansas National Guard in 1962, and retired 18 years later on February 28, 1980, at the rank of 1st Sergeant.

In his spare time, he enjoyed wood carving and was a member of the VFW Post 4449 of Marianna, where he served as Commander and Quartermaster.  He was a 3rd degree Mason of the Masonic Lodge 141 and was also a member of the First Baptist Church and a Deacon of the Calvary Baptist Church in Dardanville. He even took the time to study and receive his High School Equivalency Certificate in 1974.

Chester-E.-Carrier-3.pngIn the photo to the left, you can see Chester’s National Guard unit. He is standing in the second row, fifth from the right.

Chester passed away on November 6, 2011, and was buried in the Marianna Memorial Park cemetery.  I want to thank Chester’s grandson, Brian, for providing the information and photos for this tribute as well as other unit and reunion photos for the 899th.

Thank you also to Find A Grave contributor, Sandy Curry, for the use of the grave marker photo.

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