Marion Carl was born on November 1, 1915, in Hubbard, Oregon, and graduated from Oregon State University in 1938 with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering. He entered the U.S. Army Engineer Corps Reserve on May 31, 1938, and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve on August 17, 1938. Carl then entered the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Marine Corps on September 27, 1938, beginning active duty on November 15, 1938, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and designated a Naval Aviator on December 1, 1939. His first assignment was to VMF-1 at MCAS Quantico, Virginia, from December 1939 to May 1940, followed by service as a flight instructor at Corry Field, Florida, from May 1940 to August 1941. Carl then joined VMF-221 in August 1941, and participated in the Battle of Midway with the squadron from June 3 to 6, 1942, where he was credited with destroying 1 enemy aircraft in aerial combat and damaging 2 others. He then joined VMF-223 in June 1942, serving on Guadalcanal from August to October 1942, where he added an additional 15.5 enemy aircraft to his total. During this time, Capt Carl was shot down and listed as Missing in Action from September 9, 1942, until helped back to friendly lines by natives on September 14, 1942. He returned to the U.S. in November 1942, and served with Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps until January 1943, when he took command of VMF-223. Maj Carl served in the Northern Solomons from October 1943 to November 1944 as commander of VMF-223, and later as Operations Officer for Marine Air Group 12, adding another 2 enemy aircraft plus 1 damaged to his total of 18.5 destroyed plus 3 damaged in World War II. He then served as a Test Pilot at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, from January 1945 to September 1947, followed by service as Commanding Officer of VMF-122 at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, from September 1947 to December 1948. Col Carl was Operations Officer for Marine Air Group 14 from December 1948 to December 1949, and then returned to NAS Patuxent River as a Senior Project Flight Test Officer from December 1949 to November 1952. He then served as Operations Officer for Headquarters Squadron followed by additional training at MCAS Quantico from December 1952 to June 1954, followed by service on Temporary Duty at Nellis AFB, Nevada, from July to November 1954. Col Carl then commanded VMJ-1 in Korea from November 1954 to June 1955, followed by service on the staff of Headquarters Squadron for Marine Air Group 11 from June 1955 to February 1956. He then served with Headquarters Squadron for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS El Toro, California, from February 1956 to June 1958, and then served Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps from August 1958 to July 1963. Gen Carl served with the 1st Marine Brigade from July 1963 to April 1965, and then was Assistant Commander of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in the Republic of Vietnam from April 1965 to April 1966. He was Commanding General of Marine Corps Airbases East at MCAS Cherry Point from May 1966 to August 1968, and then served as Commanding General of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, also at MCAS Cherry Point, from August 1968 to June 1970. Gen Carl's final assignment was as Inspector General of the Marine Corps at Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps, where he served from July 1970 until his retirement from the Marine Corps on June 1, 1973. On June 28, 1998, Marion Carl was murdered while trying to protect his wife from an intruder at their home in Oregon. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Gen Carl was the first fighter Ace of the U.S. Marine Corps.
His 2nd Navy Cross Citation reads:
CAPTAIN MARION E. CARL distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in aerial combat with the enemy in the SOLOMON ISLANDS Area. Between 24 August 1942 and 9 September 1942 Captain CARL, unassisted, shot down ten enemy aircraft in aerial combat and, assisted by another Marine Corps pilot, he shot down an eleventh enemy aircraft. His great bravery in pushing the attack against the enemy and his conspicuous skill have served as an inspiration to other pilots of his squadron and contributed greatly to the security of the positions of the U.S. Forces in the SOLOMON ISLANDS.