Marsh Carter was a Vietnam Veteran who served two years in Vietnam and went on to excel in the financial industry as CEO of State Street Bank and Trust Company and later as chairman of the New York Stock Exchange Group. He was a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point but he served his military duty in the US Marine Corps. He recently wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times titled: At Quang Nam, a Raid and a Reckoning. In that piece he described what it was like to serve in the infantry as they chased the opposing forces and participated in activities helping locals build a nation. He ends his piece by succinctly explaining the situation in Vietnam and why the Vietnamese of the North prevailed over the ones in the South.
Carter served as a company commander with Company C, First Battalion, First Regiment, First Marine Division. He begins his piece by describing the daily life of a Marine infantry company as it carried out its responsibility of securing a ten square mile area in Quang Nam Province. The primary mission was to locate and destroy VC and NVA units but they were also tasked with other ancillary jobs such as providing medical care to villagers and backing up the local Vietnamese militia, police and regular military forces.
He described one particular mission that cost his unit five dead and thirty two wounded and failed in its objective. In was a raid on the village of Ban Lanh. Papers found on a dead VC courier indicated there would be a meeting of 100 VC leaders. Carter moved in on the village area with a force of 176 Marines on twelve helicopters to capture and or eliminate the VC leaders. The enemy was ready for them but despite that, the Marines fought their way into the village where the meeting was supposed to be taking place only to find all the leaders had managed to escape into the countryside.
After the raid Carter took a little time to think strategically and came up with this conclusion: “We could defeat the guerrillas and the North Vietnamese Army units. But it was also apparent that not enough was being done by the government of South Vietnam to remove the causes of the insurgency or the conditions that had driven so many Vietnamese to want to live under Communism.”