U.S. Army – Vietnam
When Sgt. Thomas R. Marshall of Sandy Lake, PA, wrote home from Vietnam, he didn’t write about the horrors of war. He wrote about how beautiful the country and the people were. That’s not surprising, because he was an artist at heart. It takes an artist to focus on the beauty that can often be found in the midst of ugliness.
He enlisted in the army while he was a student at the Shenango Campus of Penn State University. According to his brother, Malcolm, he had received several draft notices and just got tired of being harassed. That was in June, 1968, two years after he had graduated from Lakeview High School in Sandy Lake.
“He was a very good artist,” Malcolm said. “He had a very bright future. And he was a super nice guy. He married Tracy Clark from Stoneboro a couple of weeks before he deployed.”
Tom took Basic Training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Dix, New Jersey. He went on to graduate from Non-Commissioned Officer School at Fort Benning, Georgia.
He headed for Vietnam on June 18, 1969, and was assigned to A Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division in Tay Ninh Province, near the Cambodian border. As time went on, it should have been an optimistic time for troops in Vietnam. On November 3, 1969, in a major policy speech on Vietnam, President Richard Nixon made a major announcement:
“We have adopted a plan which we have worked out in cooperation with the South Vietnamese for the complete withdrawal of all U.S. combat ground forces, and their replacement by South Vietnamese forces on an orderly scheduled timetable. This withdrawal will be made from strength and not from weakness. As South Vietnamese forces become stronger, the rate of American withdrawal can become greater.”
Withdrawal of American forces, including the 25th Infantry Division, did proceed. So did the intense combat, and the continuing deaths of American soldiers – including Sgt. Marshall, who was killed by small arms fire on December 11, 1969.
He was survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm D. Marshall of Sandy Lake; his wife, Tracy; three sisters and a brother.
On the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Panel W15 Line 48