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  1. #1
    Senior Member  The First 100 S.E.R.E.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010

    Air Force
    I Retired
    1967 to 1988

    Camp Pendleton

    USA First Sgt. David McNerney

    MoH Recipient David McNerney

    Dies at 79

    October 13, 2010
    Houston Chronicle

    David H. McNerney, a Medal of Honor recipient whose Vietnam War heroics later became the subject of a documentary, died Sunday after a battle with lung cancer. He was 79.
    His actions on a day in March 1967 still have a profound impact on his colleagues.
    "There's a bunch of guys walking around today who wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him," Leonard McElroy said of fighting alongside McNerney in Vietnam. He said the Soldiers of A Company were in awe of him.

    "We treated him like he was our father," said McElroy, of Mission. "He treated us like we were his kids."

    McNerney was born June 2, 1931, in Lowell, Mass. His family later moved to Houston, where he graduated from St. Thomas High School in 1949.

    First Sgt. McNerney had already served two combat tours in 1966 when he was assigned to a company of green infantrymen at Fort Lewis, Wash.

    "His job was to train us for Vietnam but he wasn't going with us," said Sam Ponsoll, from Danville, Ky.,who served with McNerney in A Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment. By pulling enough strings with the 4th Infantry Division brass, though, McNerney eventually received orders to accompany "his boys" into combat.

    Men had faith in him

    In March 1967, the company of fewer than 100 Soldiers was attacked by a much larger force near the Central Highlands village of Polei Doc.

    McNerney dashed through a hail of gunfire and took charge after learning that the company's commander and artillery forward observer had been killed. Although wounded by a North Vietnamese grenade, McNerney wiped out a machine-gun position and called artillery fire to within 20 meters of his own position to repulse the waves of enemy soldiers threatening to overrun the U.S. lines.

    All the while, McNerney continued moving throughout the company's battlefield area -- adjusting the position, checking on his Soldiers and pulling the wounded to safety.
    "If he was there, we just didn't have any worries," Ponsoll said. "We knew he was going to take care of us."

    McNerney also crawled outside the relative safety of the perimeter to grab enough explosives from abandoned rucksacks to clear away a landing zone for the medical evacuation helicopters.

    McNerney remained with his troops until the next day, when the new company commander arrived.

    Received medal from LBJ

    He returned to the United States later that year. President Lyndon B. Johnson presented him with the Medal of Honor in 1968. McNerney later volunteered for a fourth tour in Vietnam before retiring from the military in 1969.
    McNerney returned to Texas after Vietnam and worked for U.S. Customs at the Port of Houston until his second retirement in 1995.
    His wife, Parmelia, died in 2003. The couple had no children.

    The documentary about McNerney -- Honor in the Valley of Tears -- premiered earlier this year. Sam Ponsoll told his son, New York-based filmmaker John Ponsoll, that he would need the thumbs-up from McNerney before the veterans from A Company would open up.

    "If he tells you 'yes,' everybody in the company will cooperate," Ponsoll said. "They ended up doing 65 hours of interviews with the guys in the company."

    'A Soldier to the end'

    The veterans of A Company kept in touch with McNerney over the years. About 30 came to the American Legion post in Crosby in September for the dedication of a monument to him.
    It was clear, said post member Don Guillory, that the guest of honor wouldn't be around much longer.

    After the ceremony, the veterans of A Company joined their former first sergeant at a restaurant near the post. He beckoned them to gather around his table.

    "He told them goodbye and said how proud he was to have served with them," Guillory recalled.

    They later lined up outside the restaurant and gave McNerney a final salute as he drove away.

    "There wasn't a dry eye there," Guillory said. "That was the saddest thing I've ever seen."

    Guillory said McNerney went into the hospice unit last week at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.

    "He was a Soldier to the end and he wanted to die with Soldiers," Guillory said.

  2. #2
    The man with the plan  The First 100 TX Wide Glide's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010

    I am Serving
    1997 to Present

    Fort Richardson
    RIP Top.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Army Reserves
    I Served
    1988 to Present

    Fort Knox
    Thanks for sharing this great article about a great American warrior.
    " There is no excuse to go about your business in a half-hearted way. We are only alive for a finite number of days, and we're poorer for every hour that we spend in soft-hearted pursuits."


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