Ed Carlson was born on July 6, 1941, in San Lorenzo, California. He was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Army through the Army ROTC program at San Jose State College on June 7, 1963, and went on active duty beginning July 9, 1963. After completing the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course and Airborne School, Lt Carlson served as a Reconnaissance and Survey Officer, Assistant Executive Officer, and as a Battery Commander with 2nd Battalion, 5th Artillery Regiment in West Germany from November 1963 to August 1966, followed by service as Battalion S-3 and Survey Officer for the 3rd Target Acquisition Battalion, 26th Artillery Regiment at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, from October 1966 to August 1967. Capt Carlson next completed additional Field Artillery training before serving as a Liaison Officer with Headquarters II Field Force Vietnam Artillery in South Vietnam from October 1967 to March 1968, and then as Commander of Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 35th Artillery Regiment in South Vietnam from March to October 1968. He then served as an Action Officer and Instructor with the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill from December 1968 to January 1970, followed by an assignment to San Jose State College to complete his master's degree from January 1970 to July 1971. Maj Carlson next returned to Southeast Asia as an advisor to the South Vietnamese Army with the U.S. Military Assistance Command in South Vietnam from July 1971 until he was captured and taken as a Prisoner of War during the battle for Loc Ninh on April 7, 1972. After spending 312 days in captivity, mostly in Cambodia, he was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Letterman General Hospital in the Presidio of San Francisco, followed by service as a Project Officer and War Gamer with the War Games Division of the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, from June 1973 to August 1974. Maj Carlson next attended Army Command and General Staff College from August 1974 to June 1975, and then served as Battalion S-3 with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery at Fort Lewis, Washington, from June 1975 to October 1976. His next assignment was as Chief of the Training Management Development Office at Fort Lewis from October 1976 to June 1980, followed by service as Commander of 2nd Battalion, 83rd Field Artillery Regiment in West Germany from July 1980 to July 1983. Col Carlson attended Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, from August 1983 to June 1984, and then returned to Fort Lewis, where he served until retiring from the Army on October 1, 1992. Ed Carlson died on August 7, 1999, and was buried at the Tahoma National Cemetery in St. Kent, Washington.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
Major Albert E. Carlson, Field Artillery, distinguished himself by gallantry in action during the period of 5 to 7 April 1972 while serving as the Deputy Senior Advisor to the 9th Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division, Army of the Republic of Vietnam. On 5 April 1972, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces launched a major offensive with the objective of capturing Binh Long Province in Military Region 3. The 5th Viet Cong Division was targeted against Loc Ninh, the capital of Loc Ninh District in Northern Binh Long Province. The 5th Viet Cong Division launched a massive ground attack against Loc Ninh beginning early in the morning of 5 April 1972. The attack was supported by artillery and tanks. Major Carlson skillfully directed tactical airstrikes and helicopter gunships in support of the 9th Infantry Regimental and other South Vietnamese Forces in the area. During the battle Major Carlson fought magnificently. Time and time again he directed the fighters, bombers, gunships and artillery fire on top of his own position to drive off the attacking enemy. The combination of Major Carlson's courage and professional skill coupled with all available firepower kept the numerically superior enemy at bay for more than two days. Despite the valiant efforts of the defenders, the city of Loc Ninh was completely overrun by the enemy on 7 April 1972, but Major Carlson through his courageous actions extracted a horrendous price from the enemy for their tactical accomplishment. Major Carlson's conspicuous gallantry in action was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Army and reflects great credit upon himself and the military service.