Marion Carl: The Marine Corps Ace Who Defied the Odds

Marion Eugene Carl was one of the most celebrated pilots in the history of the United States Marine Corps. He was born in Hubbard, Oregon in 1915, and after graduating from college in 1938, he joined the Marine Corps. He was initially assigned to the 6th Defense Battalion in San Diego, but it wasn’t until 1942 that he was transferred to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in the Pacific. It was here that Carl’s legend as an ace pilot would begin.

Carl’s first taste of combat came on August 20, 1942, during the Battle of Guadalcanal. He was flying a Grumman F4F Wildcat fighter plane, and in his first dogfight, he shot down three Japanese planes. He quickly established himself as a skilled and tenacious pilot, and he would go on to become one of the top aces of the Pacific War.

Throughout the rest of 1942, Carl flew numerous missions over Guadalcanal and other islands in the Pacific. He quickly earned a reputation for his aggressive and fearless approach to air combat. He was known for his ability to outmaneuver his opponents and for his willingness to take risks to get the kill. By the end of the year, he had shot down a total of 16 Japanese planes, making him one of the most successful American aces of the war.

In early 1943, Carl was sent back to the United States to help train new pilots. He was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in California, where he was put in charge of a training squadron. He quickly established himself as an excellent teacher, and many of his students would go on to become successful pilots themselves.

In 1944, Carl returned to combat in the Pacific. He was now flying a new plane, the Vought F4U Corsair, which was faster and more heavily armed than the Wildcat. He quickly adapted to the new plane, and his skills as a pilot only improved. He continued to rack up victories against the Japanese, and by the end of the war, his total number of kills had risen to 18.5.

After the war, Carl remained in the Marine Corps, and he was promoted to the rank of colonel. He served in a variety of roles, including as a test pilot and as a commander of several Marine Corps squadrons. He retired from the military in 1967, having received numerous awards for his service, including the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Throughout his career, Carl was known for his skill as a pilot and his dedication to the Marine Corps. He was also known for his humility and his willingness to help others. He was a mentor to many young pilots, and he always put the needs of his men and his country ahead of his own.

Today, Marion Carl is remembered as one of the greatest pilots in the history of the Marine Corps. He played a crucial role in defending Guadalcanal and other islands in the Pacific, and his skill and courage inspired countless others. His legacy lives on in the Marine Corps and in the hearts of all those who knew and admired him.

Marion Carl continued to fly in combat throughout the remainder of the war, ultimately scoring a total of 18.5 aerial victories. He earned numerous awards for his service, including the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Medal with three gold stars.

After the war, Carl remained in the Marine Corps and was instrumental in the development and testing of new aircraft. He served as a test pilot for the Vought F4U Corsair and the McDonnell F2H Banshee, among others. In 1953, he set a new world speed record by flying a F4D Skyray at 752 miles per hour.

In addition to his work as a test pilot, Carl also served in various command positions within the Marine Corps, including commanding officer of Marine Fighter Squadron 115 during the Korean War. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1973 with the rank of Major General.

Despite his exceptional accomplishments in combat, Marion Carl remained humble and dedicated to his duty as a Marine. After the war, he continued to serve in various capacities within the Marine Corps, including as a test pilot and as the commander of a fighter group in the Korean War. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1957 as a brigadier general, but continued to contribute to aviation as a civilian consultant.

In addition to his military service, Marion Carl was also a devoted family man. He married Edna Henry in 1941 and they had two children together. Edna was a constant source of support and inspiration for Marion throughout his military career, even accompanying him on some of his assignments.

Marion Eugene Carl passed away in 1998 at the age of 82, but his legacy lives on. He remains a celebrated figure in the Marine Corps and in the aviation community, remembered not only for his impressive combat record, but also for his leadership, dedication, and selflessness. The Marion Carl Award, presented annually by the Marine Corps Aviation Association, is named in his honor and recognizes outstanding contributions to Marine Corps aviation.

Marion Carl’s life and achievements serve as a testament to the importance of courage, determination, and perseverance in the face of adversity. His unwavering commitment to duty and his willingness to put himself in harm’s way for the greater good inspire us all to strive for excellence and to honor those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. Marion Carl truly embodied the Marine Corps motto of Semper Fidelis – always faithful.

Leave a Comment

56  −  46  =