Lt. Col. Mickey McGuire, retired from the Air Force, was Carroll’s classmate at Marist. He describes Carroll as “the best of the best.”
Carroll, a member of the Air Force, died in the line of duty after enemy fire struck his aircraft. He was losing power and fuel, McGuire said, and was dangerously close to an area occupied by the North Vietnamese Army.
Carroll’s plane went down, and he then held off two North Vietnamese Army companies with a rifle, revolver and hand grenades while he waited to be rescued. Rescue was not possible, however, as the North Vietnamese Army held off those trying to save Carroll, McGuire said.
“Maj. Carroll fought with bravery, tenacity and courage up to the moment of his death,” said Jon Bird, memorial committee spokesman.
The Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association will honor Carroll at 11 a.m. May 23 at his alma mater, the Marist School’s Hughes Spaulding Stadium, 3790 Ashford Dunwoody Road. The public is invited to join family, friends, students and comrades in arms. The ceremony will also include a patriotic concert by the 116th Army band and Georgia Army National Guard, a benediction, Air Force Color Guard honors, the presentation of retirement colors and a helicopter flyover. It will also feature a presentation of the flag to Carroll’s family and speeches from Lt. Gen. Joseph J. Redden and Marist representatives.
Carroll earned the Air Force’s highest award, the Air Force Cross, according to Franklin Cox, who helped organize the event. He also earned a Purple Heart.
McGuire said Carroll’s funeral at the Air Force Academy was uplifting, and family members did readings. He was buried in the U.S. Air Force Academy cemetery, McGuire added.
“It was a grand celebratory party and John would have loved being in the middle of it,” he said.
Of his classmate, McGuire added, he left it all on the football field at Marist, and gave it all to his country when he fought to the death on a field in a far-away jungle.
“Even though almost 50 years have passed since many of these heroes have passed, the emotions of those who attend, especially family and friends, is palpable,” Bird said.
Bird said the Marist School staff and students fully support the celebration of their alumnus, and all will attend the ceremony.
If you go:
When: May 23 at 11 a.m.
Where: Marist’s Hughes Spaulding Stadium, 3790 Ashford Dunwoody Road in Brookhaven