“You Think About Your Training, You Think About The Mission, You Think About Your Men”: A West Point Marine Officer In Vietnam

Marsh Carter


Marsh Carter grew up in a West Point family. His grandfather graduated in 1899, his uncle in 1926, and his father in 1931, so it was natural for him to attend West Point as well. Graduating in 1962 when about 12.5% of the class could choose to serve in a different branch of the service, Marsh chose to commission into the Marine Corps. After serving with 81mm mortars, as a Recon Platoon Commander, and as a Rifle Company Executive Officer, he deployed to Vietnam in the summer of 1966. He was assigned as the Company Commander for C Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Division, stationed south of DaNang and operating inland to the foothills. After his first tour in Vietnam, he returned in 1970 and was an Advisor to the Vietnamese Marine Corps. Following his second tour, he served as a White House Fellow before leaving the Marine Corps in 1976 to pursue a career in business. In this interview, he describes in detail a specific operation targeting a Viet Cong leadership meeting in a village, which utilized intelligence gathered from a captured VC courier. He discusses the planning and conduct of the operation, highlighting leadership at the company level and below. He talks about advising the Vietnamese Marines, and some of the issues the South Vietnamese faced during Operation Lam Son 719. He mentions Ambassador Pete Peterson, a former POW and the first American Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and his efforts to help the Vietnamese economy. Throughout the interview, he provides leadership lessons for junior officers.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics Leadership USMC Vietnamese Marine Corps Courage West Point History Taking on a New Command Military Family USMA 1962
interviewer Patrick Jennings
date 25 August 2008


name Marsh Carter
institution USMA
graduation year 1962
service Marine Corps
unit 2nd Recon Battalion, 2nd Marine Division; C Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Division; Advisor, Vietnamese Marine Corps; White House Fellow
service dates 1962 1976