Carter Burdell Hagler

NO. 17798  •  24 August 1928 – 28 November 1950

Killed in Action November 28, 1950 in Korea, aged 22 years.


When this historic shaft shall crumbling lie
In ages hence, in woman’s heart will be,
A folded flag, a thrilling page unrolled. 
A deathless song of Southern chivalry.
Fame’s temple boasts no higher name,
No king is grander on his throne;
No glory shines with brighter gleam,
The name of "Patriot" stands alone.

These words are carved in a granite monument beside the first Capitol of the Confederacy. They commemorate the brave soldiers of the South who lost their lives in the terrible war Of 1861-65. They might verywell have been written to honor another soldier who fell in battle almost a century later.

His uniform was not gray or butternut brown, but the green fatigue twill of the modern army. The battlefield on which he gave his life was not in Virginia or Tennessee, but thousands of miles to the west on the barren hills of a small Asian country. The flag which he followed was not the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy, but that of the United States of America, both North and South. But the cause for which he fought was no less noble, and the sacrifice he made no less great!

Carter Burdell Hagler was born in Augusta, Georgia on August 24, 1928, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Waterman Hagler. From the earliest recollections of those who knew him, he always stood out among his fellows. I can verify this. I first met him at a boys’ camp in 1938, eight years before we entered the Military Academy. He was an outstanding camper, completely without pretense - one of those few people that everybody considers a good and cherished friend. Children are often inclined by their very nature to be mean or bullying to those less able than themselves. During the two years I knew him at camp, I never saw or heard him show anybody, from the most popular to the least liked, anything but kindness and friendship.

Carter attended and was graduated with honors from the Academy of Richmond County, Augusta, Georgia. There he won many coveted honors. He was on the track, tennis and rifle teams, a member of the Beta Club, the Literary Society, the Annual Staff, the R.O.T.C. Sabre Club, and the Hi-Y. He was awarded the Gold R, was a Lieutenant in the R.O.T.C., and a member of the Order Of the Arrow of the Boy Scouts of America.

Front the day he entered West Point, Carter was admired and liked by everyone. The way his classmates felt toward him can be best summed up by this excerpt of a letter from a classmate to his family. "You will want to know that Carter was the only one I know who never had an enemy, for Carter was incapable of being mean and unkind to anyone. In countless 'gab’ sessions, which men always have, Carter alone was discussed as being the best in every respect. There is no other fellow cadet or officer who came through those discussions unscathed. I believe this to be the highest tribute." What this classmate wrote, I know to be the literal, unembellished truth.

Along with others of us, Carter went directly from graduation leave to Korea, and the war in progress there. On the 16th of September, a classmate reports seeing him go over the side of a ship and down a landing net into a waiting L.S.T. which was to take him to his first combat. I am certain he was smiling with the same confidence and encouraging others around him in the same inspiring way that he always did.

Less than two months later on November 28, 1950, Second Lieutenant Carter Burdell Hagler poured out his young life for his country on a Korean hillside. The heroic action in which Carter fell is outlined in his citation for the Silver Star for gallantry in action. As a forward observer of Battery C, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, Seventh Infantry Division, he was attached to Company L, 3d Battalion, 31st Infantry, which was in position near the Chosin Reservoir on the east coast of North Korea. "Vastly numerically superior enemy forces threatened to overrun positions held by this battalion and other units of the division. Lieutenant Hagler moved his forward observer section to the highest accessible ground in the area to better direct artillery fire. With complete disregard for his own safety, though exposing himself to heavy enemy fire and observation, Lieutenant Hagler placed himself in an open position from which he could call for artillery fire on the attacking enemy forces. In his effort to hold the high ground, he left the men of his section in the shelter of their covered positions and personally delivered messages to the Infantry commander regarding his observations. During the course of battle on 28 November 1950, the telephone line between Lieutenant Hagler and the artillery fire direction center was knocked out by enemy fire. With complete disregard for his own safety, Lieutenant Hagler made his way through enemy lines to the artillery fire direction center and after procuring the needed wire for reestablishing communications, started to lay it back to his position when he was struck down by enemy fire and killed."

About Carter, his battery commander said, "Lieutenant Hagler was a fine officer and a gentleman. Men in this organization, while I commanded it, sought assignment in his section. He was well-liked, and it was a pleasure to have been his commanding officer."

In Augusta, Georgia, an American Legion Post is named for Carter. A window has been erected to his memory in the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, of which he was a communicant.

There are three living memorials which bear his name. Perhaps they will to some degree fill the void that has been left in the hearts of those who knew him and contribute some of the goodness to this world which he would inevitably done, had he lived.

The first of these memorials is his cousin’s child, Carter Burdell Boardman; the second is his brother’s little boy, Carter Burdell Hagler; the third, I am proud to say, is my son..

"Blessed are the poor of heart; for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8.

- Will Hill Tankersly