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Mark Sutherd Carroll
an autobiography

I was born in 1949 in Lexington, Kentucky, and spent my youth there. My father was James S. Carroll, Esq., and my mother was Edith Rebecca May.  I was the second of three children and the only boy.  I was born in town near the University of Kentucky (UK). In about 1952 , Daddy built a new home in the suburbs, and we moved to the southeast part of Lexington.

I started school at Kenwick Elementary, where my aunt was a teacher; and Junior High at Lafayette for a spell, and then the University High School.  When it closed two years later, I attended Tates Creek High in the winter, and Lafayette High in the summers, and graduated a year early in the Summer of '67. In my youth, I spent time with Daddy fishing in lakes or in the surf in the summers; and hunting for rabbit and birds in the winters. Just about every summer I went to some sort of a camp, beginning at the age of about 7 until about 14. It was at camp that I developed my skills as a marksman. My favorite was my single-action 22 revolver, modeled after the Colt Peacemaker.  I learned to quickly-draw and fan-fire the pistol with very good accuracy. As time went on I progressed from Camper to Counselor, and taught canoeing and began to develop my leadership skills.

At the age of 14, I began working around my Daddy's trailer park.  It was called Ingleside, and had a grand old antebellum mansion on its grounds.  We rented it out as apartments, but finally had to tear it down.  One can still see one of the old gate houses, with its stone towers on Broadway in Lexington near the Red Mile Race Track.  As the summers went on, Daddy promoted me from freelance trailer washer to assistant maintenance man, and finally to assistant office manager.

Daddy bought us a little Austin Healy Sprite during this time, and I experienced the thrill of the open-air ride in a British roadster - an experience that affected me for the rest of my life. It's little 36hp engine was a bit small to carry him throughout the state on his legal engagements, so he soon purchased the big Healy, a 1961 1/2 3000, Mark II, which he passed along to me on my 16th birthday. 

In the Spring of 1967, I met Zetta Doyle Lyons. We were both crusin' the Jerry's Drive-in Restaurant in our Austin Healy 3000s, (her's in showroom condition, and mine tied together with pink-elastic clothing line, showing signs of a little cancer around the rocker panels, and sorely needing a paint job). Zetta thought it a bit comical. Sadly, Zetta's friend totaled her beautiful British-Racing-Green Healy that summer.  I saw her again in the fall in as a passenger in her friend's Mustang.  I offered her a ride in my Healy (I think I'd gotten the clothesline off the hood by then), and got a date that night for the drive-in movies. That was it, I was caught and so was she!

In January 1968 , after I'd finally turned 18, I entered UK as a history/political science/pre-law student. I ended up enjoying ROTC and the military the most.  In the Summer of '69 I did a tour with the USMC Reserves in their Platoon Leaders Class at Quantico, Virginia.  Zetta and I decided that the Army had more to offer.  In the fall I signed a contract with the Army, and then resigned from the USMC (I guess I was in  two services at once!). The next summer I spent at the Indiantown Gap Military Reservation in Pennsylvania at ROTC Advanced Camp.... a breeze after the rigors of Quantico!

College went OK. I made average grades and learned a little about life. I never did join a fraternity at UK, unless you count the ROTC Rangers. Zetta was working full time downtown, and so we enjoyed most of our leisure activities outside of Campus activities. We enjoyed racing and rallying our sports cars the most, and won several trophies. Every year we made a great trip with the family to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

In the Summer of my Junior year, 1971, I married Zetta. We eloped in her '64 MGB and drove early one morning to just across the state line in Tennessee. A few weeks later we enjoyed our honeymoon with the family at a big house on the beach.

Our first home was my grandmother's old home. We got a beagle hound, "Hershel", and a cat "Cat" to round out our little family.

I graduated from UK the next spring, and was commissioned in the Army Medical Service Corps of the US Army Reserve. We sold Zetta's MGB and bought a new Vega GT in celebration - a graduation present from Daddy (The aluminum engine was a bummer! I got the new Vega and Zetta got the Healy. Lucky girl, it was a rare LeMans model with three carbs... maybe only a few hundred were ever made.)

Our first Army assignment took us to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas for the Basic Course, then  in January 1973, to my first duty station at Fort Campbell, Kentucky with the 502nd Infantry Division (Air Mobile) of the 101st Airborne Division. There I served as a Medical Platoon Leader, and later as an Operations Officer for the 326th Medical Battalion. We were on alert several times, but never deployed. We bought our first home in Montgomery County, Tennessee.  Meanwhile, the old Healy had a real bad case of cancer.  My buddy put his foot through the floorboard one day, and then the exhaust manifold rusted away shortly afterwards.  We decided to sell our old friend  (big mistake!) and bought a 1972 240Z to replace it. We enjoyed our first tour immensely; and decided to pursue a career in the Army. I applied for and received Voluntary Indefinite Status in the US Army Reserve in 1975.

I was next assigned to be the Hospital Company Commander at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona: home of the Buffalo Soldier. We sold our first home, and started the long drive across the west: Zetta was carrying our first child. We arrived in the heat of the summer. The fort was a mile high on the side of a mountain, located 12 miles north of Mexico with a beautiful view of the mountains, just across a wide valley from historic Tombstone. We got a set of nice quarters just a few blocks from the hospital. I started a Mountain Search and Rescue Military Team, and we supported in two rescue efforts and fought two major forest fires. The best things about the tour were the birth of our first child, Heather Nicolle Carroll, promotion to Captain, earning a Master of Arts Degree in Public Administration from the University of Northern Colorado with, appointment in the Regular Army, and my record Largemouth Black Bass (22 inches, 9 lb-5 oz: a little bigger than Heather when she was born.)

In 1978 we returned to Fort Sam Houston for the Advanced Course for six months. We requested, and were assigned a tour in Germany. We sold the Z-car and bought a BIG BLUE Dodge Maxivan with a pop-top camping option. I was assigned first as the Executive Officer of a 200-bed Combat Support Hospital in Ludwigsburg, Germany, just about 14 kilometers north of Stuttgart. We lived "on the economy" at first in the town of Murr on the Murr River.  Ironically, it was located just a short distance from the home of my Amburger ancestors in the 1500s. I began riding a bicycle the 14 kilometers to work, a practice I maintained for the rest of my military career.  After a while, we moved into Government quarters in the Pattonville Community in Ludwigsbug.  We bought a little Triumph TR7 soon after we arrived; we couldn't go long without our sports car. Our Triumph didn't last long, for we soon came upon a 1978 280Z 2+2.  Just the thing for our growing family. I was assigned as the Executive Officer of the 128th Combat Support Hospital. It had these big jet engines in boxes that inflated and powered ten wards and several other facilities.  It was big, heavy, hard to move, and consumed a considerable amount of fuel.  We did a "first" by airlifting the hospital into our corps area by helicopter. Next, I was assigned as the 30th Medical Group's Operations Officer. We went on frequent exercises near the border, sometimes with our sister units from Alabama and Mississippi.  We had a great time with these citizen soldiers, and upon their departure I was "commissioned" as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Alabama Militia, and given the key to Jackson, Mississippi. Zetta was carrying our son Tyson at this time, the evening of our celebration dinner, Zetta delivered our second child. The officers of the National Guard units went downtown before their departure, and bought a silver spoon for Tyson.

In 1981 we came home to Fort Sam Houston. I joined the Tri Service Joint Combat Casualty Care Course staff and faculty and spent two-years teaching doctors about combat medicine in the field.  I greatly enjoyed my service with the Air Force, Navy and Marines.  While there I served first the Logistics Officer and then later as the Chief of Training.  I was specifically responsible for teaching the mountain medical-operations portion of the course and supervising our Marines who supported the operation with a platoon for the various assaults and patrols that we taught the students. We would throw grenade and artillery simulators and man machine guns. I think I lost a good part of my hearing on this assignment!

After two years in the field I was ready for a change, I was invited to join the operations Team at the Health Services Command.  In this assignment, I had to to travel to most of the Army installations on training-assistance visits.  It was a real opportunity to see the bases across the US.

In 1983, I decided to give up smoking one morning  -- cold turkey.  That was great, but I started to add some inches ,and so began running to help control my weight. A new deskmate was a marathoner and encouraged me to start training with him. This led to competitive foot races and eventually completing two marathons.

One of my responsibilities as a training and operations officer was to coordinate ROTC training for prospective nurses. I used my contacts to wrangle an assignment back to the land of tall trees (the East Coast), and southern living in Hampton, Virginia.   I finally made Major and it was time again for another move. In May of 1996, I reported to historic Fort Monroe, Virginia located at the confluence of the Chesapeake Bay and the James River. This land had been fortified since 1609. The Fort itself was finished by a young Engineering Officer named Robert E. Lee in 1834. We were fortunate to get quarters right on base with a view of the Bay in what they called "Student Housing" (it had formally housed the Coast Artillery Students in the 30s and 40s). While there I served in the new US Army Cadet Command as an Operations Officer in charge of several cadet recruiting programs; and refurbished an old WWII barracks as the new School of Cadet Command.  I sold my bass boat and bought a racing bike to begin my Triathlon racing. I participated in about five to six triathlons a year and continued to do so until I retired from the Army.

The family spent a lot of time around the water, and visiting historic Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown. We really enjoyed the area and people. During this period the family accepted Jesus Christ as our saviour and all were baptized.

One day a message came across my desk announcing the a board for Long Term Civilian Training -- College.   I applied and was selected for the Army's Comptrollership Program and an Master of Business Administration at Syracuse University.  In June of 1998 we headed north across the Mason Dixon Line for our new home in Camillus, New York.

College started in earnest; it was very intense. In August, we returned to Hampton, Roads to be Confirmed with some friends in the Episcopal Congregation there, but the night before the ceremony I was called home to bury my sister, Judy. She had died in a head-on traffic accident. Later, my father's cancer became worse and he entered the VA hospital; he died in April and I travelled home again  -- this time to bury Daddy.

From Syracuse we traveled to Augusta, Georgia to the Eisenhower Medical Center on Fort Gordon.  We bought our second home in Evans, Georgia, about 12 miles from post. I bought a 1936 Mercedes Benz kit car  -- built with a Mustang II running gear. Zetta calls it the Faux Benz. I began the project in my new garage.  When a hurricane threatened Augusta in the fall, we pulled all of the fiberglass body and interior parts out of the cardboard shipping boxes and took them to our new living room. There I continued to assemble them; Zetta was not favorably impressed with my efforts.  I finally contracted with a fellow to complete the project and in May was driving yet another sports car.

I was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1990.  In 1991 Desert Shield got underway. I had volunteered for service in the Gulf, but was never assigned.  Perhaps they had little need for a lieutenant colonel comptroller in the theater. I had come in the service at the end of one war, and was perhaps the wrong specialty and rank for the next.  I was assigned for six months to Honduras where I served as the Executive Officer of the Joint Task Force Bravo Hospital on Soto Cano Air Base.  In preparation I had to qualify, and the old pistol skills I learned as a kid where still there. We qualified that day with a platoon of MPs, and I beat them all -- a perfect score -- hitting 50 of 50 on the combat-pistol course.

Upon return to the United States I was reassigned to Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina, as the Womack Medical Center Chief Financial Officer.  We spent just over two years there.  

Our next assignment took us back to the Tidewater area.  We joined the Navy in the Tricare Tidewater Region were I served as the Chief Operating Officer. This time we lived on the beach-side of Hampton Road in a darling cottage on a lake on the Little Creek Amphibious Base.  Ironically, this is where my parents had lived after WWII when Daddy taught as a Captain at the Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School. We loved it, the job, neighbors and environment were great.  I either ran or rode my bike the six miles to work most days, and during the warmer months would swim a mile across our lake before going to work.  The job required that I travel throughout the Tidewater Region in Virginia and North Carolina visiting Marine Corps, Naval, Army and Air Force bases. I continued to compete in Triathlons, with my best finish in the Marine Corps TinMan , a long triathlon, where I finished third in my age group.

In June of 1996, some old friends who had left service recommended me to a DoD contractor, and I ultimately retired and joined the Birch & Davis team as a Senior Consultant.  We moved to Rockville, Maryland... not far from where our York and Carroll ancestors once lived.  At the same time, Heather married, and in 1997 we became grandparents of Nathaniel, "the most beautiful baby in the world".

After three years our contract supporting the Navy expired, and we decided to head home to Kentucky. We enrolled our boy, Tyson, in the University of Kentucky, so he could follow in the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and great grandfather (Tyson is the first and only "Legacy" in the college ROTC  Ranger Program). Meanwhile Zetta and I headed for hills, Lee County hills that is: The Three Forks of the Kentucky River, Beattyville, the Daniel Boone National Forest, Natural Bridge, the beautiful and wild Red River Gorge.

I took a position as an Assistant Professor of Military Science at the University of Louisville working as the Marketing Officer and training cadets for about 18 months, and then returned to the hills to spend three years teaching ROTC at the high school level. I finally hung up my uniform in 2004, and decided it was time for a sabatical and to think about what I ought to do for the rest of my life.