Al Cartwright served in the army for 20 years. He entered the army as an enlisted man, becoming a paratrooper until he attended Officer Candidate School and received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. Rising through the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, he became an infantry officer, army aviator, and he was qualified in both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters.
Over the years, Cartwright accumulated over 6,000 hours of flight time. Accolades include many awards and badges, not limited to: The Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Eleven Air Medals, Meritase Service Medal, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, six service ribbons, and two campaign ribbons for Vietnam. In addition to these individual decorations, Cartwright served as the commander of eight helicopter gunships and supported Project Delta, a special forces unit in Vietnam that was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, the Valorous Unit Award, the Meritorious Unit Award, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and the only project to receive the Navy Unit Commendation Award. Al also earned the parachute badge and senior Aviator wings while serving.
In 2003, Al was inducted into the Officer Candidate School Hall of FAme. He served as the past president of the US Army Officer Candidate School’s Alumni Association, a national org with over 4800 members for 10 years.
Al earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tampa, a B.A. from University of South Florida, and an M.S. from University of Southern California. He has been married to his wife, Vicki, for 56 years and has three sons, one daughter, six grandchildren, and one great grandson.