Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans

COMBAT STORIES FROM Vietnam

Marshall Carter | 1st Marine Division - Marines

8:49   |   Three of Captain Marshall Carter's men who were on a fateful raid with him, went to the battalion commander to tell him what Captain Carter had done during the operation. That conversation worked out well for him, much better than the conversation he had years later with a reporter from WGBH.

More From Marshall Carter

Keywords   :     Marshall Carter    evacuation    double agent    village    CIA    courier    Phoenix Program    WGBH    documentary    FOI Act    Freedom Of Information Act    historian    journalist    New York Times    political cadre    Navy Cross

Videos ( 16 )
Vietnam
  • Marshall Carter  |  Vietnam  |  1st Marine Division  |  6:00

    The value of the Medivac chopper standing by at high altitude was proven when a pilot on a supporting fire mission had to bail out. Marshall Carter was able to call down the Medivac unit and extract the pilot, who surely would have been a POW. Part 4 of 5.

  • Marshall Carter  |  Vietnam  |  1st Marine Division  |  2:49

    Marshall Carter went for the Marines when he graduated from West Point to escape the family business. His father and grandfather were both West Point graduates who were in the Army. They considered the Marines a small service with limited career opportunities, but to Carter, that was no problem.

  • Marshall Carter  |  Vietnam  |  1st Marine Division  |  4:43

    New Marine rifle company commander Marshall Carter was anxious to try and improve on the French experience in Vietnam. He thought they never employed proper counter insurgency tactics in their war, and he had just been drilled in them as one of the few Marines to attend Green Beret school.

  • Marshall Carter  |  Vietnam  |  1st Marine Division  |  5:27

    When Marshall Carter arrived in Vietnam, he was looking forward to commanding a rifle company and learning from the veteran sergeants he would be working with. Right away, he got a lesson in keeping his head down when he stood on top of a vehicle to try and free two others that were stuck.

  • Marshall Carter  |  Vietnam  |  1st Marine Division  |  7:15

    When you set an eighteen year old kid down in a jungle and give him "half the power of the Lord to carry on his hip," it becomes a real concern to restrain him. According to Captain Marshall Carter, once they see their buddies blown away in front of them, they want to shoot anything that moves.

  • Marshall Carter  |  Vietnam  |  1st Marine Division  |  5:28

    The Ia Drang battle marked a turning point in the Vietnam War. The enemy was prepared to sacrifice an entire division to find out two things: how to deal with American air mobility and how to deal with overwhelming supporting arms. Marine Captain Marshall Carter explains how they developed two tactics that were used the rest of the war.

  • Marshall Carter  |  Vietnam  |  1st Marine Division  |  4:57

    There were four levels of enemy in Vietnam, according to Marine Captain Marshall Carter, ranging from the North Vietnamese Army at the top to the VCI, or Viet Cong Infrastructure, at the informal level. Gen. Westmoreland dismissed the worth of the VCI and famously omitted their numbers from official counts. Still, they caused a third of the American casualties.

  • Marshall Carter  |  Vietnam  |  1st Marine Division  |  7:02

    While in Vietnam, Marshall Carter was lucky enough to step on two mines that were both duds. It didn't faze him at all because he already expected not to return home. "The half life of a company commander in Vietnam was about four months." His aggressive tactics took the battle to the enemy and he survived.

  • Marshall Carter  |  Vietnam  |  1st Marine Division  |  4:27

    Marshall Carter recalls a Medivac flight that was flown by two wounded pilots, one with leg wounds and one hit in the arm. Together they worked the stick and the pedals. He then explains the struggle over tactics. Westmoreland and the Army were looking for the big battle. The Marine approach was to pacify the area and protect the people.

  • Marshall Carter  |  Vietnam  |  1st Marine Division  |  4:27

    Commanders in Vietnam were encouraged not to contact the families of soldiers who died under their command. Captain Marshall Carter says this was because the war was very unpopular at home. He tried it...once.

  • Marshall Carter  |  Vietnam  |  1st Marine Division  |  5:35

    Marshall Carter's unit was moving across a big cemetery. Suddenly, the ground gave way and he knew immediately he was falling into a punji pit. Not only were there punji stakes, there was a grenade with a trip wire. The Viet Cong were masters at adapting to American tactics. After steel shanks were added to American boots, the punji traps were made with a sideways closing motion.

  • Marshall Carter  |  Vietnam  |  1st Marine Division  |  8:05

    The intel from the captured courier was juicy. A high level meeting of political cadres was to be held in a certain village and Captain Marshall Carter's unit was chosen to conduct a raid. Given the power to completely plan the operation, Carter requested extra choppers and a Medivac unit "on station," hovering high above the action waiting to descend. Part 1 of 5.

  • Marshall Carter  |  Vietnam  |  1st Marine Division  |  5:38

    The extra choppers that Marshall Carter requested for his raid on a Viet Cong gathering came in handy right away. The command team's chopper was hit by enemy fire and had to be replaced even before the team arrived at the site. Part 2 of 5.

  • Marshall Carter  |  Vietnam  |  1st Marine Division  |  9:13

    The raid on a Viet Cong conclave had gone well but there was still resistance and Captain Marshall Carter started thinking about extraction from the battlefield. Before he could go, however, he had to personally rescue a wounded Marine and then had to linger after the others had gone to direct supporting fire. Part 3 of 5.

  • Marshall Carter  |  Vietnam  |  1st Marine Division  |  5:27

    After a break for grad school, Marshall Carter returned for a second Vietnam tour but this time he was an adviser to the South Vietnamese Marines. He speaks highly of them but says that Gen. Westmoreland's neglect of South Vietnamese forces contributed to their eventual defeat.

  • Marshall Carter  |  Vietnam  |  1st Marine Division  |  4:05

    Marshall Carter's battalion commander, Van D. Bell, taught him two valuable lessons which helped make him a successful rifle company commander: aggressiveness and use of supporting arms. Those lessons helped him a lot but nothing could help higher level decision makers who did not realize that Ho Chi Minh was Vietnam's George Washington.

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