By Megan Garcia, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs Office
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Jan. 5, 2018) – Service members, family members, and friends are scheduled to gather Jan. 9 at the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia, during a dinner and ceremony to honor the two newest recipients of the Doughboy Award: retired Gen. William W. Hartzog and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Gary R. Carpenter.
The award, the highest honor that the chief of the Infantry can grant an Infantryman, is presented annually to two individuals for their significant and lasting contributions to the Infantry career field.
More than 130 active and retired Infantry generals, lieutenant generals and their command sergeants major, and former chiefs of the Infantry career field conduct a panel to vote on the awardees.
Hartzog, in the past a member of many of these panels, was surprised to find he was a selectee for this year.
“I was very humbled by the whole process. I had no idea,” Hartzog said. “I had been on many of the panels for a number of years, and I had the chance to be one of the voting members, and I voted for people I thought was more deserving than I, so I had figured it would never happen to me.”
Hartzog graduated in 1963 from the Military College of South Carolina – commonly referred to as the Citadel – where he received his undergraduate degree in English and was also commissioned into the Infantry branch. He served in the 3rd Battalion, 508th Infantry (Airborne), in Panama from 1965 to 1967. He deployed to Vietnam in 1967 as the company commander for Charlie Company, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, as a part of 25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightning). In 1972 to 1973, he returned as an adviser and plans officer for the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Headquarters.
“My first tour was very, very important, being a commander in Vietnam. I was a young officer, and I didn’t know if I had what it took to be an Infantry commander, but I got through it OK,” Hartzog said. “I learned to rely on and work with the people I commanded, so I made friendships that I still have today.”
Hartzog added the company has a reunion every year and is scheduled to have their reunion later this month in Columbia, South Carolina.
Hartzog retired in 1998 after serving in various command positions within the Army, including the U.S. Army South, the 1st Infantry Division, and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
“An Infantryman should always have the courage of his own convictions and not look over his shoulder waiting for someone to tell him what to do, but to always act on what he learned in school and earlier assignments,” Hartzog said.
Carpenter, who will also receive the award, was caught off guard by his selection as well.
“I was down at Fort Benning, Georgia, for the Ranger Rendezvous in July, and someone offered me a congratulations, and that’s how I found out,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter attended basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Benning, after enlisting into the Army in January 1961. He was first assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he attended and graduated from jump school.
“I was a youngster right out of high school, so it was an exciting time for me,” he said.
He added he had a brother who was in the 82nd Airborne Division as well as the Special Forces, so Carpenter was trying to follow in his brother’s footsteps.
However, Carpenter blazed his own path, serving two tours in Vietnam. His first tour was with the 1st Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade, 503rd Infantry Regiment, in 1966.
“It was a tough experience, but it was educational,” Carpenter said. “I was a young sergeant, and I learned a lot on how to be a leader.”
In between tours, Carpenter was selected to attend the U.S. Army Ranger Course at Fort Benning in 1967.
“Ranger School is probably one of the toughest schools in the Army,” Carpenter said. “It was a good experience, and I enjoyed it.”
He returned to Vietnam in 1970 as an adviser to a Vietnamese ranger battalion.
Carpenter continued to take on what he found to be challenging and rewarding assignments such as a drill sergeant; as the 75th Ranger Regiment Command Sergeant Major at Hunter Army Air Field in Savannah, Georgia, where he also participated in and served as the jumpmaster on the lead aircraft during Operation Urgent Fury on the small Island of Grenada; and as the command sergeant major of U.S. Army Pacific, Fort Shafter, Hawaii, where he retired.
“I enjoyed my entire military career,” Carpenter said. “I was in for 35 years, and if I had to change anything I wouldn’t. I’d do it all over again. Taking care of Soldiers, their problems and their families was very important to me, and I also had a loving, caring wife that helped me do that.”