15 October 2010

RIP: David McNerney

David Herbert McNerney
2 Jun 1931 - 10 Oct 2010

ZUI this article from the 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. The Crosby man 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.


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.


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.

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First Sergeant, US Army; Company A, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division

Born: 2 June 1931, Lowell, Massachusetts
Died: 10 October 2010, Houston, Texas

Citation: 1st Sgt. McNerney distinguished himself when his unit was attacked by a North Vietnamese battalion near Polei Doc [Republic of Vietnam, on 22 March 1967]. 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.

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