U.S. Marine Corps, 3rd Marine Division
Service: Fall 1968 – Fall 1969
In 1967, twenty-two-year-old Karl Marlantes was poised for a brilliant academic career. A Marine Platoon Leaders Class Candidate turned Rhodes scholar, he was eligible to defer military service until he completed his education. But at Oxford as he watched more and more friends from his small hometown ship off to Vietnam, his conscience began to get the best of him – and so he gave up the Rhodes Scholarship and volunteered to serve. By the fall of 1968, Marlantes was a Marine Lieutenant leading a group of men against the North Vietnamese Army in the vicious ‘I Corps’ region of South Vietnam – the area closest to the Demilitarized Zone that separates the North and South. It would be up to them to stop the enemy in a seemingly endless succession of hills and mountains – all to be taken, often at great cost. After the war, Marlantes came home to experience painful examples of the public distain inflicted on many who served in Vietnam. He returned to Oxford to complete his education and later in life published two books: ‘Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War,’ and ‘What It is Like to Go To War,” a non-fiction book, both based on his experiences.