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This is the fourteenth volume in the series of Memorial Tributes compiled by the National Academy of Engineering as a personal remembrance of the lives and outstanding achievements of its members and international members. These volumes are intended to stand as an enduring record of the many contributions of engineers and engineering to the benefit of humankind. In most cases, the authors of the tributes are contemporaries or colleagues who had personal knowledge of the interests and the engineering accomplishments of the deceased.
BY JAMES LAMMIE AND JACK BUFFINGTON
REAR ADMIRAL “MIKE” MARSCHALL, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and former chief of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command and the Navy Civil Engineer Corps and King Bee of the Seabees, died November 18, 2008, peacefully at his home in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife of 64 years, Marie, at his side. His passing marked the end of a most distinguished career in construction and engineering that spanned more than 60 years.
Albert Rhoades Marschall was born in New Orleans on May 5, 1921. As a child of 9 years, a friend suggested he drop Rhoades as his parents called him and pick another name, so the two 9 year olds decided “Mike” was much better. Rhoades sounded too much like rose. He attended Tulane University for three years prior to entering the U.S. Naval Academy in 1941, graduating with distinction with the accelerated class of 1944. He was commissioned an ensign and assigned to the destroyer USS Ross, participating in the invasion of Leyte in the Philippines and the occupation of Japan.
In 1946 Marschall transferred to the Civil Engineer Corps and enrolled at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he received his B.S.C.E. and M.S.C.E. degrees. His first assignment in the Civil Engineer Corps was as assistant public works officer at the Yards and Docks Supply Depot in Davisville, Rhode Island. His next series of billets as a junior officer included duty with Amphibious Construction Battalion 2, the Bureau of Naval Personnel, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the Public Works Officer of the 12th Naval District.
CDR Marschall graduated from the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, in January 1961, served a tour as civil engineer corps detailer at the Bureau of Naval Personnel, and then accepted a two-year detail to the Bureau of Yards and Docks to serve as director of the Weapons and Other Support Division. In 1964 he became the public works officer for his alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy, and on July 1, 1965, was advanced to the rank of captain.
In September 1966 Captain Marschall was ordered to Vietnam as commander of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment, and in June of the following year he was given additional duty as commander of the 3rd Naval Construction Brigade. He and his Seabees built airfields, roads, bridges, bunkers, and revetments for the troops at the front. Upon conclusion of his Vietnam duty, Marschall was awarded the Navy’s Legion of Merit with combat “V” for meritorious service. The Society of American Military Engineers also honored him with the George W. Goethals Medal for his work in Southeast Asia. In October 1967 he returned to the United States to become commanding officer of the Southeastern Division, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina. In January 1970 he was promoted to rear admiral.
Immediately after his promotion, RADM Marschall was transferred back to Vietnam as deputy commander of the Pacific Division, NAVFAC, Southeast Asia, and officer in charge of construction in Vietnam. During this second tour in southeast Asia, he was responsible for supervising and monitoring $1.6 billion worth of U.S. Department of Defense construction. After returning to the United States, he received the Distinguished Service Medal “for exceptionally meritorious service to the government of the United States in a duty of great responsibility.”
In May 1971, RADM Marschall reported as director of shore installations in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. Sixteen months later he was detached for duty as vice commander and shortly thereafter as commander of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command and chief of civil engineers.
During the years Mike Marschall was chief, the command became heavily involved in constructing a dedicated support facility for the new Trident missile launching submarines. In Bangor, Washington, NAVFAC launched an extensive multiyear construction refit, training, missile processing, and logistics support for the Navy’s Trident program. By the time RADM Marschall stepped down as commander, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command had obligated over $400 million for Trident-related facilities. In addition to Trident construction, the command focused a great deal of effort on building and modernizing naval hospitals during the mid- 1970s. The most prominent of these hospital modernizations involved renovation of the National Naval Medical Center and construction of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, both in Bethesda, Maryland.
RADM Marschall closed out a 36-year naval career and retired in May 1977. The chief of naval operations awarded him a Gold Star in lieu of a second award of the Distinguished Service Medal for his exceptional service as commander of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command.
Soon after retirement, RADM Marschall became vice president of the George Hyman Construction Company, and in 1979 he returned to the public sector as commissioner of the Public Building Service for the General Services Administration. As commissioner he was responsible for the design, building, leasing, operation, and maintenance of most federal buildings in the United States. Following this position, he served on the board of directors of Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc., from 1983 to 1994 and on the board of Parsons Brinckerhoff Construction Services from 1994 to 1997. He was a member of almost every organization known in the world of engineering and construction.
RADM Marschall is survived by the wife of 64 years, Marie, and their five children, 13 grandchildren, and two great- grandchildren. This giant in the engineering and construction industry was loved and respected by everyone. Even 30 years after his retirement from the Navy his advice was still sought regularly by many flag officers on active duty. He will be sorely missed.