CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Service members with 2nd Maintenance Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group got a surprise at work Tuesday when a Vietnam-era Marine visited them.
First Lt. Patrick “Clebe” McClary, the recipient of the Bronze Star, the Silver Star and three Purple Heart Medals, was here visiting the Marine Corps Engineer School, and was asked to come speak with the battalion.
“I was really challenged by his warrior spirit, transparency and the esprit de corps he has in his heart for all Marines,” said Lt. Col. Craig C. Clemans, the commanding officer for 2nd Maintenance Battalion. “Any Marine who can endure two years in a hospital with more than 30 surgeries, and forty years later come to the battalion’s door step ‘fired up’ as he was … absolutely commands our respect and full attention.”
McClary resigned from a college coaching position in 1967 after witnessing an American flag being burned by students protesting the Vietnam War. He then volunteered to join the Marine Corps and attended Officer Candidate School. Following OCS McClary was given the job of platoon commander for the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. In one battle during the Vietnam War he lost his left arm and left eye after explosions by three separate grenades but still continued to lead his men until finally losing consciousness due to the severity of his injuries.
“His speech was very motivational,” said Pfc. Devin Woodson, the company clerk with 2nd Maintenance Battalion. “He was very real, and full of that ‘good old Marine Corps spirit.’ It really makes you think about life and the things we take for granted.”
During his speech McClary talked about the importance of communication in relationships and the military. He also spoke of the value of life and how many active duty service members commit suicide every day.
“It’s alright to give out, but never give up,” said McClary. “Suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope.”
McClary works out regularly and makes light of his injuries. He also carries a bible with him wherever he goes that has photos of his loved ones inside, and encourages people to have faith in their lives.
“Despite not being physically whole, Lt. McClary is the embodiment of the “whole Marine concept,” said Clemans. “It is a profound privilege for us to stand on his shoulders and carry on all that is honorable in the title ‘Marine.’”
Despite his injuries, McClary still runs on the beach with his dog, Chesty Puller, and says he loves to fish and hunt.