LTG(R) Mark P. Hertling grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and enjoyed reading Red Reeder’s West Point books as a young boy. He worked his way through high school and participated in JROTC, which was mandatory. He entered West Point while the Vietnam War was ongoing, and he remembers hearing the names of Academy graduates who had been killed in Vietnam being read from the “Poop Deck” during lunch. He branched Armor, and his first assignment was in Cold War Germany with the 2nd Battalion, 64th Armor, in the 3rd Infantry Division, where he was both a tank platoon leader and a scout platoon leader. After returning from Germany, he returned to West Point, where he served as the Aide-de-Camp to the Commandant of Cadets, BG John C. Bard. During that time, the administration was working to integrate women into the Academy, and was dealing with lingering fallout from the Class of ’77 honor scandal. He returned to Germany after serving at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and was there when the Berlin Wall came down. During the Persian Gulf War, he was the S-3 (Operations Officer) for 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Division. Later in his career, he deployed twice more, as the Assistant Division Commander (Support) for 1st Armored Division from September 2003 to August 2004, and then as the Commanding General of 1st Armored Division in MND(N) (Multi-National Division – North) from October 2007 to October 2008. He retired in 2013.
In this interview, he talks about his childhood, and his experiences at West Point. He recalls some of his instructors at West Point, including Buddy Bucha, Wes Clark, Dave Harms, and Jack Jacobs, and explains how they inspired him. He describes his service in Armored units at a variety of levels, from leading a platoon to commanding a division. He discusses returning to West Point as an aide-de-camp and as an instructor. Finally, he reflects on what West Point means to him, and on having a child attend the Academy.