John O. Marsh, Jr., is a former Secretary of the Army and former Virginia Representative in Congress.
By appointment of former Secretary of Defense Cheney, he also served 1989-1994 in the position of Chairman of the Reserve Forces Policy Board, an advisory body in the Department of Defense relating to all the U.S. Reserve Forces.
Marsh was born August 7, 1926, in Winchester, Virginia. He received his LL.B. degree in 1951 from Washington and Lee University and began the practice of law in Strasburg, Virginia. He was elected to four terms as a Representative in Congress from the Seventh District of Virginia (1963-1971) and was a member of the House Appropriations Committee. Choosing not to seek a fifth term, he resumed the practice of law.
In March 1973, he returned to federal service as Assistant Secretary of Defense (Legislative Affairs). In January 1974, he became Assistant for National Security Affairs to Vice President Ford, and, in August of that year, Counselor, with Cabinet Rank, to President Ford. He returned again to private law practice in January 1977, as a Washington, D.C. resident partner of a major Virginia law firm.
On January 30, 1981, Marsh was sworn in as Secretary of the Army. When he retired from that post on August 14, 1989, his tenure was the longest of any Secretary of the Army or Secretary of War in the history of the Republic. During 1988, pursuant to an enactment of Congress, he served concurrently as Assistant Secretary of Defense (Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict). On completing his service as Secretary of the Army, he undertook a special assignment as Legislative Counsel to the Secretary of Defense in the development of legislative recommendations relating to streamlining of the defense procurement process, and then joined the Hazel & Thomas law firm early in 1990. He has been awarded, on six occasions, the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award and has been decorated by the governments of France and Brazil. He holds the Presidential Citizens Medal.
Mr. Marsh enlisted in the United States Army in 1944, during World War II, and was commissioned a second lieutenant at age nineteen, upon graduation from Infantry Officer Candidate School. He later served in the Army Reserve and the Virginia National Guard from 1954 to 1976, much of the Guard service being in the 116th Infantry Regiment. He graduated from the Army Airborne and Jumpmaster Schools and earned Senior Parachutist Wings. While in Congress, he served a 30-day voluntary tour of active duty in Vietnam as a major. He retired as a lieutenant colonel.
In 1990, Mr. Marsh was selected by the Virginia Press Association to receive its Virginian of the Year Award and was chosen by the Association of the United States Army as recipient of its George Catlett Marshall Medal for public service.
The John O. Marsh, Jr. Armory, a Virginia National Guard facility in Woodstock, Virginia, was named in Marsh's honor and dedicated in November 1996.
In 1998, Mr. Marsh served as Visiting Professor of Ethics at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia.
Marsh is married to the former Glenn Ann Patterson, and they have three children: Rob, a physician, Rebecca, a former high school counselor, and Scot, a surveyor. Both Rob and Scot Marsh were recalled to active duty in Desert Storm and took part in combat operations in the Gulf War. Rob Marsh, a Special Forces combat physician serving with Delta Force, was seriously wounded while serving with a special operation in Somalia. Presently he is a Distinguished Professor of Law at George Mason University, and previously taught at the law school at William and Mary.