David H. McNerney - Medal of Honor

#1
We laid a friend of mine to rest this past weekend. Although we both served in Vietnam, I never knew David there - but did get to know him when we both worked for the US Customs Service in Houston.

David's funeral was attended by five General Officers, 40 of the surviving members of his company, his family, three fellow Medal of Honor recipients, former Customs co-workers, and many others. As we left the church headed for the Houston National Cemetery residents of the small Texas town of Crosby lined the street to pay their respects. The Patriot Guard Riders also participated by standing tall.

The ceremony at the National Cemetery was very moving, David had retired from the Army in 1969 but he was still one of their own. The 4th Infantry Division provided the honor guard, Ft Sill provided the mounted Caisson detail, and the Army National Guard did the fly over with four Apache attack helicopters.

Very few people have actually seen a Medal of Honor recipient, that day we were in the company of four of them. There are now just 86 men living who are entitled to wear that medal.

The below links are to photographs and video I shot that day. The significance of the first few frames of the first video is that it is from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial panel 17E and bears the names of the 22 men of Co A who were killed that day in March, 1967.

YouTube - David H. McNerney - A Hero Laid To Rest - October 16, 2010

YouTube - David H. McNerney - Medal of Honor


One More Edit - The son of one of the men who survived that day has produced a documentary called "Honor in the valley of tears" - it is due to be released on DVD in the near future:

YouTube - GI Film Festival Trailer: Honor In The Valley of Tears
 
#2
From wikipedia : David H. McNerney - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1st Sgt. McNerney distinguished himself when his unit was attacked by a North Vietnamese battalion near Polei Doc. Running through the hail of enemy fire to the area of heaviest contact, he was assisting in the development of a defensive perimeter when he encountered several enemy at close range. He killed the enemy but was painfully injured when blown from his feet by a grenade. In spite of this injury, he assaulted and destroyed an enemy machinegun position that had pinned down 5 of his comrades beyond the defensive line. Upon learning his commander and artillery forward observer had been killed, he assumed command of the company. He adjusted artillery fire to within 20 meters of the position in a daring measure to repulse enemy assaults. When the smoke grenades used to mark the position were gone, he moved into a nearby clearing to designate the location to friendly aircraft. In spite of enemy fire he remained exposed until he was certain the position was spotted and then climbed into a tree and tied the identification panel to its highest branches. Then he moved among his men readjusting their position, encouraging the defenders and checking the wounded. As the hostile assaults slackened, he began clearing a helicopter landing site to evacuate the wounded. When explosives were needed to remove large trees, he crawled outside the relative safety of his perimeter to collect demolition material from abandoned rucksacks. Moving through a fusillade of fire he returned with the explosives that were vital to the clearing of the landing zone. Disregarding the pain of his injury and refusing medical evacuation 1st Sgt. McNerney remained with his unit until the next day when the new commander arrived. First Sgt. McNerney's outstanding heroism and leadership were inspirational to his comrades. His actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.
 
#4
Good to see the amount of respect the man had from the American people, poice & fire service etc. Can't see something like that happening over here (The Wooten Basset repatriation services are very poignant, but not on a scale like this, and for a man who served 40+ years ago).

Question - why the military funeral with fly past etc? Is this a 'standard' service for the passing of Medal of Honour recipients?
 
#5
A fitting tribute to a genuine hero by the people of Crosby Tx.
 
#6
Good to see the amount of respect the man had from the American people, poice & fire service etc. Can't see something like that happening over here (The Wooten Basset repatriation services are very poignant, but not on a scale like this, and for a man who served 40+ years ago).

Question - why the military funeral with fly past etc? Is this a 'standard' service for the passing of Medal of Honour recipients?
I believe that the flyby was specifically because he was a Medal of Honor recipient. In fact the lead helicopter pilot had given David an orientation flight a couple of months ago. See pages 4 and 5 of this link http://www.agd.state.tx.us/Dispatch/10/September10Dispatch.pdf

The mounted unit with the Caisson was also because he was an MOH recipient. If you notice the soldier bearing the standard with the piper as they follow the caisson - that flag designates the Medal of Honor. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/89/Medal_of_Honor_flag_Arlington_funeral.jpg

I'm pretty sure that they use the Caisson at Arlington for those who are killed on active duty also.

The thing that impacted me most about all of this was the reaction from the ordinary folks in his hometown. You probably wouldn't get that in a major city - but in small town America Patriotism and respect for the military is alive and well.

The Patriot Guard Riders are another thing - they are a group of volunteers from all walks of life who volunteer their time to "stand guard" holding American flags at the funerals of active duty, retired, or former military if requested by the family.

They came into being a few years ago when religious nutcases from the Westboro Baptist church began picketing funerals of servicemen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. They held up signs claiming that the deaths were God's punishment for homosexuality.

The Patriot Guard form a shield between any potential protesters and the family and mourners. PatriotGuardRiders.

There may be a lot of things wrong with this country, but how it respects it's military is not one of them.
 

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