Douglas MacArthur McCrary
American Farm Economics Association, Vice President 3, Program Chairman 4
Wife: Vivian Williams McCrary Day; daughter: Allison McCrary Henderson; granddaughter: MacArthur Henderson
Army, First Lieutenant
2nd Platoon, C Company, 5th Battalion, 7th Calvary, 1 Calvary Division, US Army Vietnam
Distinguished Service Cross, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Combat Infantry Badge
Mar 13, 1942
Feb 16, 1967
Killed in Action - Died as a result of hostile small arms fire as he attempted to rescue his wounded Platoon Sergeant.
Grand View Memorial Gardens in Greenville, SC.
"To say that Doug McCrary was a character is to make a classic understatement. He was that and more. I met Doug the summer of 1958 when my family moved to the Berea community just north of Greenville, SC. Doug was a senior my junior year at Berea High and we both graduated from Clemson. One of my first memories of Doug’s pranks that led to his description as a character is of the morning school started his senior year at Berea. The conversation of the day was about the tombstone that had appeared that morning planted in front of the local Shell service station. The tombstone read in part “Here Lies Ski King.” Ski King had been an E. C. Beatty hit song that summer about a show off skier who tied the ski rope around his arm before being jerked off of his skis and drug around the lake. Doug had made the tombstone and with the help of a friend had erected it during the night at the station. The Greenville News carried a story about the tombstone the next day, but it was a while before the story about its creator got out, but many of us suspected Doug from the start. There were many similar happenings during that time and McCrary was usually the instigator.
The last time I saw Doug was when he came home on leave before going to Viet Nam. I was a bank trainee who had joined the local Jaycee organization. At that time the Jaycees ran the Miss South Carolina pageant and one of the featured events was a parade down Main Street with the contestants sitting on the back of convertibles driven by members of the Jaycees. I had mentioned to Doug earlier that week that I was driving one of the cars. Well, on the day of the parade just about the time it was to start, Doug jumped into the shot gun seat of my car dressed in combat fatigue pants, a tee shirt, combat boots and had a black string tie around his neck. As a serious bank trainee, I couldn’t possibly let some unauthorized person dressed like that ride in my car. Later, I saw Doug through my rear view mirror riding with my brother-in-law and his contestant a few cars back waiving to the people lined along the street. Doug didn’t give up on anything easily.
But Doug was more than a prankster. He was ahead of his time in many ways and though his life was ended way too soon, he lived it to the fullest.
The day Doug left for Viet Nam, I talked to his mother who told me that she had begged him not to go and had told him that if he would lie down in their driveway she would run over his legs with the car and break them so he would not have to go. I have often thought that I wish she had, but Doug was going to do something he really wanted to do. The letters I received from him confirm that he wanted to be there and that if he had made it through his first tour of duty, he would have signed up for a second. It is just too bad that he did not have the luck of his namesake General Douglas MacArthur who, in two World Wars as a commander, walked along lines of battle many times and was never hit by enemy fire."
Jim Smith ‘65
January 17, 2010
"Remembrance of Douglas McCrary: Doug and I both attended Berea High School and Clemson and although my high school class was three years ahead of him, we could not help but know and like this outgoing, fun loving guy. He was a true character! Little did I recognize at that time that Doug also had the depth of character so exemplified by the sacrifice he made for all of us. His memory remains an inspiration."
Tom Edwards ‘61
January 13, 2010
"I knew Doug all of his too short life. Doug was the youngest of three brothers and full of fun, but he also had a serious side. We shared the same birth date of March 13, although I was three years older, attended the same Methodist Church and school. Ours was a small, southern community that fostered pride, loyalty and a competitive spirit, which were qualities possessed by Doug in abundance. He loved sports and his Clemson Tigers. Doug was proud of his name Douglas MacArthur McCrary and was dedicated to an Army career. I know he was a good soldier. He is missed by those who knew him."
January 20, 2010
"I met 2nd Lt McCrary as he arrived to take command of the 2nd Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 11th Infantry, at Fort Carson, Colorado in 1966. At that time I was the Platoon Sergeant. During our training in preparing to join the 1st Calvary Division in the Republic of South Vietnam as 5th Battalion, 7th Calvary, we all became very close. Lt Mac, as he was called by his men, was a very good leader and became one of the best officers of Company C. By Lt Mac caring very highly for his men on that day in February 1967, while doing his many duties as a Platoon Leader during a fire fight with a well entrenched Viet Cong enemy force, he encountered one of his men wounded. He went back to save him from incoming fire and himself paid that ultimate price. Being one of his men in training, I was close to Lt Mac. While we were in country, I was transferred to the 1st Platoon, but on that day I had to pay my last respects as a close soldier to Lt Mac by helping place him on the chopper for his final journey home.
By me becoming a close solder/friend to Lt Mac, his memory will live on in my mind. My wife and I did move to Greenville South Carolina, the home of Lt Mac, and have of this day become a very close personal and family friend to his widow and child, Vivian McCrary Day and Allison McCreary Henderson. We as one family do join the 5th Battalion, 7th Calvary every two Years at its Unit Reunion, no matter where it is being held in the States. We go to honor all of our fallen Brothers of 5/7Cavalry and specially Lt Mac. His memory will always be a part of that cement of time and will never be forgotten.
I must smile about one of the things that Lt Mac would do while in Vietnam when we came off of a long patrol. Lt Mac would take off his boots and find a cool stream of water and place is feet in the water for a nice relief (This was a no-no while in the field)."
Willoughby Mercer, Jr., Sgt, USA (Ret)
January 23, 2010
"Doug was killed on Feb 16th, 1967 while trying to save the life of his platoon sergeant, SFC Flores. Lt McCrary was loved by all his men. I was struck at the time that he died doing what he thought was right. He was fully committed to his men.
Doug had a tremendous sense of humor. He kept the whole company laughing. He was loved and loved his men. He was exceptionally brave. I will never forget him and the moment of his death. He was a patriot and one of my heroes. There is a photo of Doug front and center listening to General Westmoreland in Vietnam that I have seen in several publications."
Richard L Belt, LTC, USA (Ret)
January 26, 2010
"I was LT McCrary's Co C Executive Officer while we were both assigned to the unit upon its activation at Ft Carson, Co in 1966. As the 2d Platoon Leader, Doug quickly became well liked and respected both by his men and his fellow officers. Doug had a kind of "aw shucks" attitude of a barefoot guy from the sticks, full of life, always smiling and making jokes. He loved a good time and adored his young wife, Vivian and his daughter, Allison. Doug's family and mine shared an off-post apartment building with he living on the ground floor and I living two stories above him. As a result our families saw a lot of each other and became very close and remain close to this day. Our Company Commander, CPT Budge, a West Pointer and Rhodes Scholar, didn't know quite what to make of Doug and sometimes wondered if Doug ever took life seriously. He did, of course, and after we deployed to Vietnam, he made sure his men were well taken care of. In combat, Doug displayed a knack for leadership, demonstrating to CPT Budge and the other officers that he could be depended upon in tough situations. It was no surprise to me to learn that, upon receiving fire from a dug-in enemy force and seeing that his Platoon Sergeant, SFC Flores, had been hit, he immediately moved under fire to bring him to safety. He was hit by an enemy bullet and killed instantly. It was not until the next day that we were able to recover his body. It was with a very heavy heart that I wrote to Vivian and informed her of Doug's death. On Feb 16th, I lost a wonderful friend and fellow officer."
John M. Long, COL, USA (Ret)
January 31, 2010
"Douglas MacArthur McCrary was a friend, literally, from birth to death. We were playmates at a very early age, then attended the first through twelfth grades together. We both entered the US Army at approximately the same time, and corresponded until his untimely death in 1967. One of the high honors of my life was serving as a pallbearer at his funeral. Doug was always an adventurous individual, a risk taker beyond imagination, of strong moral character and sound judgment and intellect. He was looked up to by our fellow classmates, and was a friend to everyone. In our school years, Doug was always a leader – be it as the class officer, in all sports, as well as social activities. He stood his ground when he was right, but apologized when he felt it was warranted. He will always be a hero in my eyes, and a credit to his hometown of Greenville, his native state of South Carolina, and his alma mater, Clemson University."
James Thomas Jones, Jr.
January 31, 2010
"I knew Doug from our high school and Clemson days. One memory stands out that would be reflective of his spirit and sense of adventure. It was a cold snowy night in 1960 and a bunch of us Berea classmates were gathered at my house. Doug walked the two miles between our houses and was dressed in quasi military style. His trek and big smile were about what we would expect from him. Having the name "Douglas McArthur" probably destined him to a military career and to a commitment that cost him his life. His sacrifice has been an inspiration to all of us who knew him."
Ronald R. Rich
February 8, 2010
"I can’t remember when Doug and I first met, but there are clear memories of him and his family by the time I started first grade. They were all wonderful community supporting, America loving, “Tigers” who were willing to fight for just causes and to lend help when needed. Doug’s mother was my Cub Scout den mother and I spent many wonderful afternoons in full uniform in scout meetings at their house and later playing with Doug and other friends. Usually we played “army”, a name given to any form of play activity where opposing teams tried to overtake or “capture” another. His Dad employed me to work in the family business one summer and this experience gave me much insight into the kindness of the McCrarys.
We grew up in a small rural community that was held together by trust, faith, honesty, respect, hard work and a local Texaco service station where we all hung out. I looked up to Doug, who was a year older, but always accepted me into play and learning activities as an equal. During high school years we played sports together (basketball, baseball and track). I was a mediocre athlete as best, but Doug had much talent and was entertaining to watch. His casual and sometimes awkward walk turned to controlled gracefulness on the basketball court. His game was never more than it was intended to be; an activity that was fun and one that encouraged self-discipline and personal growth in his peers.
I remember attending camps, taking trips, double dating, rides in his beautifully restored A Model, and parties hosted at his and other friends’ homes. But all memories are dominated by his happiness, his sense of humor and his joy of life. Doug had a trait that I always thought put him in a different league from the rest of us. In spite of his propensity to joke and kid around, he was markedly serious about the way of life we enjoyed in our Country and concerned with the importance of committing to serve to protect our freedom. I believe Doug knew as a lad that he was destined for a military career and service to his country.
His love for his wife, Vivian, and their daughter, Allison, was always evident as he never missed an opportunity to discuss and to share his feelings about them with others. Those of us who knew and loved Doug have enjoyed richer and more fulfilling lives because of his impact on us. We knew he was living a life of significance even back when we were kids."
February 11, 2010
"Doug is one of the more enduring characters to come out of the once sedate (for the most part) little community of Berea. Located on the northwest side of Greenville, SC, just past the textile mill villages, Berea was a great place to grow up and to learn about life. For me Doug was definitely an integral part of that process.
I have heard it said that we are defined by our possessions. When we were children in “grammar school“ (1950’s), Doug had some pretty interesting things which, looking back now, were a real indicator of Doug’s role in later life. To name a few: combat boots, a machete, camping gear consisting of a pup tent, sleeping bags, canteen, mess kit, and a Coleman lantern; also a Crossman pellet rifle and pistol (both of which, I’m told, Doug used with great success on squirrels and birds), a bull whip which he could pop (no small feat), and a pair of beagles: Banjo and Flambeau, both of whom I recall following Doug about everywhere, even into his house (which I thought was neat because I wasn’t allowed to let my dog into our house). I always liked going to Doug’s house because you could enjoy his things as if they were yours. Doug shared well.
Doug’s parents, Thelma and Mr. Mac (as he was called in most circles) would play Setback (a card game that I never understood) with my parents on certain Saturday nights. Sometimes they would play at our house and on occasion Doug would come with them. As soon as Doug hit the door he would be "into things." After they left, I can hear my mama saying, "That Doug is a mess," and my father saying that Doug had St. Vitus’ Dance. I think that’s what we call ADHD today. I don’t know if Doug was hyper or not, but he certainly didn’t let any grass grow under his feet. Mama said it was “all those vitamins” that his mother gave him.
Later on, in high school, Doug‘s ability to be creative began to surface. Some people credit Doug with giving our school principal, J. R. Orr, his nickname. One that was so apt (because of his baldness) that it immediately stuck. Cueball," as Mr. Orr would forever be remembered, never knew about his descriptive moniker, as far as I know, but I think he would have gotten a chuckle out of it. Doug was also credited with many imaginative and well-executed pranks that were perpetrated on unsuspecting teachers and citizens of Berea. I’m pretty sure that I was on the receiving end of at least one of those pranks. There are too many to recount here. They were choice, but never mean-spirited.
Doug was the kind of guy that you would never expect to eat quiche, but who knows, maybe he did. I can imagine him saying now, "Let me try some of that stuff." There was never any doubt about Doug’s masculinity.
The Doug I knew was fearless. Non-stop. Good-natured. Even exasperating at times. But most of all, Doug is unforgettable."
February 11, 2010
"I first met Doug McCrary in Ft Carson, Colorado, in late April 1966 when I assumed command of the newly organized Charlie Company, 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry where Doug was assigned as an infantry platoon leader. The Battalion had been organized from soldiers throughout the 5th Mechanized Division with the mission to complete unit training and then deploy to Vietnam to join the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) which had been fighting there for almost a year. From the day that Charlie Company came together, we knew where we were going and we knew that we were going there together.
Doug had been commissioned in the Army for less than a year and like all Second Lieutenants he was still learning the trade. However, in the next three months before we deployed in July of 1966, he rapidly climbed the learning curve as we all did. From the beginning, though, the one thing about Doug that stood out was his love and concern for his soldiers. He pushed them as hard in training as he pushed himself, but he was always ready to come to their assistance when they needed help or when they had personal problems as all soldiers do. He never hesitated to stand up for them to me or the First Sergeant when any of them were in trouble.
When we arrived in Vietnam, all of Doug’s training of his platoon and his leadership paid off. Doug and his platoon never faltered and never failed to accomplish successfully every mission that they were given. I turned over command of the company in December 1966 and so I was not there when Doug won the Distinguished Service Cross. However, when I heard that he had won the DSC for attempting to rescue some of his wounded soldiers who were under fire, I was not surprised. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Larry D. Budge, Maj Gen, USA (Ret)
February 15, 2010
Meaning behind Saluda River bridge’s name
by Ron Barnett - Columnist Greenville News USA TODAY NETWORK – S.C.
I never met 1st Lt. Douglas MacArthur McCrary, but I feel like I know what sort of guy he was after reading what his friends wrote about how he lived — and about how he died.
If you’ve traveled State 183 between Pickens and Greenville recently you may have noticed his name on the bridge crossing the Saluda River between the two counties.
Who was he, and why was this bridge named in his honor?
Those questions were raised in my mind by Bob Lloyd — who also never met the man.
As it happens, Bob is a Vietnam veteran. After attending the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Cleveland Park he started looking into the background of some of the fallen warriors honored there and found that some of them had received either the Army Distinguished Service Cross or the Navy Cross.
These are the second-highest awards bestowed by the United States, outranked only by the Medal of Honor.
Douglas MacArthur McCrary was one of those who received the Distinguished Service Cross, decorated posthumously.
His daughter, Allison Henderson, was 4 years old when he was killed trying to save the life of one of his men in Binh Dinh Province, South Vietnam, on Feb. 16, 1967.
“I’m honored, appreciative,” she said of the bridge being named in memory of him. It’s a distinction she never expected.
That brings us back to Bob Lloyd, who set in motion the chain of events that led to the bridge dedication.
After doing his research, Lloyd contacted state Rep. Dwight Loftis and told him McCrary’s story. Loftis, a Republican, enlisted Rep. Chandra Dillard, a Democrat and suggested that Lloyd put his request in writing.
Here are some excerpts from that letter: “Lt. McCrary was a native of Greenville County who grew up in the Berea community and graduated from Berea High School. He subsequently graduated from Clemson University with a degree in (agricultural economics) and received a commission in the Infantry branch of the United States Army.
“On February 16, 1967, while serving as leader of the 2nd Platoon, Company C, 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airborne), he distinguished himself in battle during multiple attempts to rescue wounded men who were under his command. He was mortally wounded. Three months later, he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart.”
“As you may remember, Major Rudolf Anderson of Greenville who is honored in Cleveland Park in downtown Greenville was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross for his heroic actions during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The division in which Lt. McCrary served sustained the highest number of casualties of any military unit deployed to Vietnam (5,444 killed in action and 26,592 wounded).”
Lloyd asked for the State 183 bridge over the Reedy River in Berea, closer to where McCrary lived, be named in his honor, but the Saluda River bridge was approved instead.
Here’s some more about how McCrary was killed, from the medal citation: “First Lieutenant McCrary distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 16 February 1967 while serving as a platoon leader with elements of the 7th Cavalry engaged with a well-entrenched enemy force.
“When the two lead platoons came under intense insurgent fire, Lieutenant McCrary quickly directed a 12-man security team forward to outflank the hostile positions. However, as the team approached the objective, it was suddenly pinned down by devastating fire from concealed enemy bunkers.
“Realizing the urgency of the situation, Lieutenant McCrary started maneuvering the rest of the platoon toward the besieged force. After advancing to a position near the team, he called for his men to provide suppressive fire as he fearlessly crawled across the bulletswept field alone.
“Upon reaching the stranded element, Lieutenant McCrary began to move among the endangered men, treating the wounded and shouting encouragement.
“Seeing one stricken man lying exposed across a dike, he tossed a smoke grenade to provide cover and then charged forward through a hail of insurgent bullets. But as he started to pull the man to safety, the smoke dissipated and Lieutenant McCrary was mortally wounded.”
So that’s how he died a hero’s death. Now, what about how he lived?
His daughter, being only 4 years old when he died, relies a lot on stories she’s heard from her mother and her father’s friends.
“He was a big prankster. A ringleader. A person who was larger than life,” she said. “He was real big, tall. He was just a good father, a good family man, a good person.”
She named her daughter MacArthur after him.
Now, you may be wondering how he came to be named after the famous general. According to his daughter, he was the youngest of three boys in the family, and his older brothers, being big fans of the World War II commander, asked if the baby could be named after Douglas MacArthur, and his mother complied.
He went by “Doug.”
Now I want to share with you some of what his friends wrote about him in the personal remembrances and tributes posted on his obituary.
They told numerous stories about his practical jokes, including his overnight planting of a tombstone in front of a gas station that warranted a writeup in The Greenville News the next day. Once, during a parade, he hopped into a car carrying a Miss South Carolina pageant contestant and waved to the crowd, wearing combat fatigues.
“Doug and I both attended Berea High School and Clemson and although my high school class was three years ahead of him, we could not help but know and like this outgoing, fun-loving guy,” wrote Tom Edwards. “He was a true character!
“Little did I recognize at that time that Doug also had the depth of character so exemplified by the sacrifice he made for all of us. His memory remains an inspiration.”
No doubt about that.
Citation to accompany the Distinguished Service Cross awarded posthumously to Douglas MacArthur McCrary:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant (Infantry) Douglas MacArthur McCrary (ASN: 0-5324222), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company C, 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airborne). First Lieutenant McCrary distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 16 February 1967 while serving as a platoon leader with elements of the 7th Cavalry engaged with a well entrenched enemy force. When the two lead platoons came under intense insurgent fire, Lieutenant McCrary quickly directed a twelve man security team forward to outflank the hostile positions. However, as the team approached the objective, it was suddenly pinned down by devastating fire from concealed enemy bunkers. Realizing the urgency of the situation, Lieutenant McCrary started maneuvering the rest of the platoon toward the besieged force. After advancing to a position near the team, he called for his men to provide suppressive fire as he fearlessly crawled across the bullet-swept field alone. Upon reaching the stranded element, Lieutenant McCrary began to move among the endangered men, treating the wounded and shouting encouragement. Seeing one stricken man lying exposed across a dike, he tossed a smoke grenade to provide cover and then charged forward through a hail of insurgent bullets. But as he started to pull the man to safety, the smoke dissipated and Lieutenant McCrary was mortally wounded. His boundless courage and selfless sacrifice in trying to save a fellow soldier will serve as a source of lasting inspiration to all those who knew him. First Lieutenant McCrary’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
Lt McCrary’s name is listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC on Panel 15E, Line 049
The book On The Tiger’s Back, by Bernard E. Grady, Biddle Publishing Company, Brunswick, Maine, 1994, describes in Chapter 22, entitled “They Just Don’t Come Much Better,” the engagement with the Viet Cong and the actions of LT McCrary which cost him his life as he attempted to save the life of his wounded Platoon Sergeant, SFC M.W. Flores.
Click here to read excerpts from the book “On the Tiger’s Back.”
The following was compiled from obituaries printed in the Greenville News, Greenville, SC on February 21, 23, and 24, 1967; was researched by Ms Rulinda Price from The South Carolina Room of the Greenville County Public Library on January 4, 2010, and was provided with the assistance of Mr L.G. “Skip” Lewis ’66, H2L Consulting Engineers, Greenville, SC.
Lt. D. M. McCrary
Lt Douglas MacArthur McCrary, 24, of Berea, was killed in action in Vietnam, Thursday, February 16. Born in Greenville March 13, 1942, he was a son of Wyman H. and Thelma Armstrong McCrary of Greenville. He finished Berea High School in 1960 and graduated from Clemson University in 1965. He was a member of the Berea Friendship Methodist Church.
He entered the service Nov. 28, 1965 and was serving in the Army’s 5th Battalion, 7th Calvary of the 1st Cavalry Division. He had been serving in the war zone in Vietnam for six months and two days.
Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Vivian Williams McCrary; a four-year-old daughter, Allison McCrary; and two brothers, Roger K. McCrary and W. H. McCrary, Jr. of Greenville. Funeral services will be conducted on Friday, February 24, at the Berea Friendship Methodist Church by the Rev M. L. Meadors, Jr. Burial will be in Grand View Memorial Gardens.
Pallbearers will be M. W. Bashor, Jr., I. Henry Philpot, Jr., W. D. Coleman, J. W. Smith, Jr., J. Thomas Jones, Jr., Joseph B. Keller, M. W. Poole, and James Blakely. The body is at the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wyman H. McCrary.