Fighting the Fascists in Spain
At some point during his brief stint fighting the Japanese in 1932, Carter came to believe that he had been visited by a spirit, which informed him that he would become a great warrior, but would not die in war. Convinced of his spiritual military destiny, he enrolled in a Chinese military school in Shanghai as soon as he was old enough. In addition to excelling in the common fare of military schools, he also learned German as a fourth language, adding it to the English, Hindi, and Mandarin Chinese, all of which he already spoke fluently.
While in China, Carter became active in leftist politics, and when the Spanish Civil War erupted, it drew him like a magnet. The war pitted fascists under the leadership of general Francisco Franco, generously backed by the Benito Mussolini fascist Italy and Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Germany, against an elected leftist Republican government. An antifascist to the core, Carter travelled to Europe in order to join the fight on the Republican side.
He made it to Spain, and enlisted in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade – an American volunteer unit composed primarily of leftists, that fought as part of the International Brigade against the fascists during the Spanish Civil War. Unfortunately, the bad guys won, and as Franco’s fascists surged to victory and the Republican government collapsed, Carter and the rest of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade were forced to flee to France in 1938. From there, he made his way to the United States.
Back in his birthplace after having spent most of his life overseas, Carter took a stab at settling down, and in 1940, while World War II raged in Europe, he met and married his wife Mildred in Los Angeles. However, as the clouds of conflict drew closer, Carter sensed that it would not be long before America was drawn into the fighting. So he enlisted in the US Army in September of 1941, just three months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
With his background and experience, it took only months before Carter was promoted to staff sergeant. However, his background and experience also led to the opening of a counterintelligence file on him: globetrotting African Americans were rarities in those days. Globetrotting African Americas who spoke Hindi, Chinese, and German, and who had fought in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, were rarer still. The US Army did not know what to make of Carter. Eventually, an unknown intelligence officer deemed it advisable to put him under surveillance because his Spanish Civil War experience meant that he had “been exposed to communism“. The counterintelligence file also noted: “Subject… capable of having connections with subversive activities due to… early years (until 1938) in the Orient“.