Military Wiki
John O. Marsh, Jr.
14th United States Secretary of the Army

In office
February 1981 – August 1989
Preceded by Clifford L. Alexander, Jr.
Succeeded by Michael P.W. Stone
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1963 – January 3, 1971
Preceded by Burr P. Harrison
Succeeded by James Kenneth Robinson
Personal details
Born August 7, 1926(1926-08-07) (age 96)
Winchester, Virginia
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Washington and Lee University
Airborne Infantry School
Occupation professor, government official

John Otho Marsh, Jr. (born August 7, 1926) is an American politician and an Adjunct Professor at George Mason University School of Law.[1][2][3] He served as the United States Secretary of the Army from 1981 to 1989, and as United States House of Representatives from Virginia from 1963 to 1971.[1][4]


John Otto Marsh, Jr. was born in Winchester, Virginia, on August 7, 1926 and graduated from Harrisonburg High School in Harrisonburg, Virginia.[5][6] He enlisted in the United States Army in 1944, during World War II, and was selected at age eighteen for Infantry Officer Candidate School (OCS) graduating as a second lieutenant of infantry in November 1945, then assigned to the Army of Occupation of Germany where he served from 1946 to 1947.[4][5][7] He was a member of the United States Army Reserve from 1947 to 1951.[5] He graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1951.[1][5] He entered the Army National Guard in Virginia in 1951 and graduated from the Army's Airborne Infantry School in 1964.[5]

John Otho Marsh, Jr. speaking at a military funeral, 1985.

Meanwhile, in 1952, he was admitted to the Virginia Bar, and started practicing law in Strasburg, Virginia, where he served as town judge.[5] From 1954 to 1962, he was the town attorney in New Market, Virginia.[5] He served in the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat from Virginia from 1963 to 1971.[1][2][3][4][5][6][8] He fought in the Vietnam War for a month without telling his fellow soldiers he was a Congressman.[4] In 1973, he was appointed as Assistant Secretary of Defense, and in January 1974, as National Security Advisor for then-Vice President Gerald Ford.[1][2][8] Under President Ford, he became Counsellor to the President and held Cabinet rank.[1][2][4][6][8] From 1981 to 1989, he served as the United States Secretary of the Army under President Ronald Reagan.[1][2][3][4][6] Marsh was then selected to serve as Chairman of the Reserve Forces Policy Board, a position he held from 1989 until 1994.[9] He later served as Chairman and interim CEO of Novavax, a pharmaceutical company.[1][2] He still sits on its Board of Directors.[10] He was a confidant of Dick Cheney when he was Vice President.[8][11]

From 1998 to 1999, he was Visiting Professor of Ethics at the Virginia Military Institute, and Adjunct Professor of Law at The College of William & Mary from 1999 to 2000.[1] He now teaches a course on Technology, Terrorism and National Security Law at George Mason University.[1][12]

He is a former Co-Chair of the Independent Review Group for Walter Reed Hospital and Bethesda Navy Medical Center.[2][13] He is a member of the Markle Foundation.[3] The John O. Marsh Institute for Government and Public Policy at Shenandoah University is named for him.[14] He lives in Winchester, Virginia with his wife, together they have had three children and seven grandchildren.[1]

Electoral History


Marsh was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives with 50.57% of the vote, defeating Republican James Kenneth Robinson.


Marsh was re-elected with 69.61% of the vote, defeating Republican Roy Erickson.


Marsh was re-elected with 59.25% of the vote, defeating Republican Edward O. McCue.


Marsh was re-elected with 54.43% of the vote, defeating Republican Arthur Rossa Giesen, Jr. and Conservative Louis A. Brooks.

Alternate portrait of John O. Marsh, Jr as Secretary of the Army


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 George Mason Law biography
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Forbes profile
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 MARKLE
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Richard Halloran, 'Washington Talk - Working Profile: Army Secretary John O. Marsh Jr.; Military Leader Wins High Ground, Quietly', in The New York Times, January 03, 1989 [1]
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Bell, William Gardner (1992). "John Otho Marsh, Jr.". Secretaries of War and Secretaries of the Army. United States Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 70-12. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Congress biography
  7. Homeland Security Policy Institute. "Who We Are". Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Dick Cheney, In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir, New York, NY: Threshold Editions, 2011, pp.71-72
  9. Annual Report of the Reserve Forces Policy Board for 2005. Washington, DC: Department of Defense. 2006. pp. 9. 
  10. Novavax Board of Directors
  11. Washington Post
  12. George Mason course
  13. 'Wounds, real and political', in The Washington Times, July 2, 2007 [2]
  14. John O. Marsh Institute

External links

  • J at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Burr P. Harrison
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
James Kenneth Robinson
Government offices
Preceded by
Clifford L. Alexander, Jr.
United States Secretary of the Army
February 1981–August 1989
Succeeded by
Michael P.W. Stone

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