“As Soon As the Shooting Starts, They’ll Look to You”: Leadership in Combat

Michael J. Nardotti


MG Michael J. Nardotti, Jr. graduated from West Point in 1969 where he spent four years on the Wrestling Team (All-American in 1968) and three years on the Honor Committee. During his First Class year he commanded 1st Regiment. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as an Infantry Officer and was deployed to Vietnam in 1970 where he served with 1/9 Cavalry in the 1st Cavalry Division. During his time in Vietnam, he led a Blue Platoon (Aero-Rifle) and earned a Silver Star and Purple Heart for rescuing a Ranger Reconnaissance Team. For this action, he was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame in 2006. Returning from Vietnam to convalesce from his wounds, he was assigned to the Department of Physical Education at West Point, and eventually earned his Law Degree from Fordham University in 1976. He transferred from the Infantry to the Judge Advocate General Corps and eventually became the Judge Advocate General where he implemented and exemplified the philosophy, “Soldiers First, Lawyers Always.” During his time as an Army Lawyer, he authored the Department of Justice brief in the case Samuel W. Koster v. The United States, where BG(R) Koster attempted to clear his name following the My Lai Massacre.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics Army Athletics Wartime Decisions My Lai Honor Faith and Religion Leadership
interviewer David Siry
date 29 September 2015


name Michael J. Nardotti
institution USMA
graduation year 1969
service Infantry / Judge Advocate General Corps
unit 1/9 Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, Vietnam
service dates 1969 1997