Lt. Clebe McClary
United States Marine Corps
Patrick Cleburne “Clebe” McClary was raised on a 10,000 acre plantation in the South Carolina Low Country. Young Clebe grew up hunting, fishing and excelling at sports. After fulfilling his dream of becoming a college coach, Clebe had plans to marry a beautiful Southern belle. Life was very good. But only weeks before the wedding (March 26, 1967), Clebe witnessed a startling event on a college campus that changed the course of his life forever – the burning of an American flag by students protesting the Vietnam conflict. Dismayed by the lack of support for the country he loved, Clebe resigned from his coaching position and volunteered for duty in the Marine Corps.
Completing Officers Training School in Quantico, Virginia, First Lt. McClary said goodbye to his bride and became platoon leader of the 1st Recon Battalion in Vietnam. On his 19th recon patrol, deep in hostile territory, Clebe and his unit engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy. Suffering devastating injuries, which included the loss of his left arm and left eye, Clebe continued to lead his men. Clebe’s valiant battle with the pain and disabilities that followed is nothing short of amazing. He spent over two years in military hospitals, undergoing over 30 major surgeries and countless hours of physical therapy. Since then Clebe has used his powerful story of courage, determination and strength to motivate audiences the world over.