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JOHN HOWARD MCCLEAN


is honored on Panel 1E, Line 26 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

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REMEMBRANCES

  • On Silver Wings

    Posted on 8/16/07 - by Dave Avery averyds@carrollsweb.com
    On Silver Wings
    They Flew The Skies
    These Brave Young Men
    Who Fought And Died
    When Duty Called
    They Went So Brave
    Now Families Mourn
    Beside Their Grave
    Who Can Forget
    What Courage They Had
    Some Have,Some Did
    And That's So Sad

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  • We Remember

    Posted on 9/23/06 - by Dave Hiddessen dhidd@yahoo.com
    I have recently met John's son and through him have become aquainted with his outstanding family. If John were alive today, he would be very proud. On Veteran's Day 2002 it is appropriate for us to remember John and thank him for his sacrifice. In a very small way, we can attempt to repay John by never letting him slip from our memory. He is a true hero. His family must certainly carry tremendous pride in his acheivement and the legacy he left behind. I know we do. God Speed, John! The Hiddessen Family
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  • Do not stand at my grave and weep

    Posted on 8/30/05 - by Bob Ross
    Do not stand at my grave and weep.
    I am not there; I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow,
    I am the diamond glints on snow,
    I am the sun on ripened grain,
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    When you awaken in the morning's hush
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circled flight.
    I am the soft stars that shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry,
    I am not there; I did not die.

    Mary Frye – 1932

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  • Who Shall We Send

    Posted on 8/16/03 - by Dave Avery
    "An God said who shall we send.I answered I am here,send me."

    Isaiah 6:8
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  • My Dad probably chose the wrong aircraft, but he sure knew what he was doing when he married Freda

    Posted on 12/2/02 - by Jerry McClean
    I never had much of an opportunity to get to know my dad. You see, I was only 5 years old when he was killed in Viet Nam over 40 years ago. However, he must have been a heck of guy as well as a war hero. I know this because he was smart enough to find and marry my mom, Freda.

    John (Mac) Howard McClean from Brooklyn, NY attended the Naval Academy during the late 1940's. While attending the Academy he met a remarkable "Coal Miners Daughter" from Parsons West Virginia named Freda Alice Root. Freda had recently moved to the big city, Washington DC, and was employed by the government. I can't recall exactly if this is when she worked for the FBI or CIA. Anyway, they happened to meet at one of those military dances where the Naval Cadets and Secretary pools get together. Visions of the movie, "An Officer and a Gentleman", often come to mind when I think about this. It might have also been somewhat like the "Enchantment Under the Sea Dance", from the "Back to the Future" movie.

    Following Mac’s graduation from the Naval Academy, Mac and Freda married. Mac then participated in a special program that converted Naval Academy Graduates to the Air Force due to the need for pilots. Mac loved to fly and particularly loved to fly the B-26. One of my memories of my dad involves a flight in a trainer at Eglin Air Force base in northwest Florida, probably in early 1962. Mac and Freda proceeded to have 3 sons: Don, Bill and Jerry. Yes, I was the youngest and supposed to be the daughter. After 3 C-Sections, I think Freda and Mac decided, or at least Freda decided, that a daughter just wasn't in the cards.

    In 1963, looking to increase his flight hours, Mac volunteered for a six month assignment in Viet Nam. One month before his assignment was complete, the wing of his B-26 aircraft fell off during a bombing run and Mac and his crew (co-pilot and a South Vietnamese Officer) were killed in military service on August 16, 1963. Mac and his co-pilot were the 103rd and 104th US causalities of the Viet Nam War. About three years ago, Freda requested Mac’s military records from her Congressman. Contained within Mac’s records was a written transcript of an interview that was conducted with the officer in charge of the search team to retrieve the B-26 crew and help determine the cause of the crash. Prior to receiving this information in Mac’s records, we never knew this transcript existed or the documented activities contained within it had ever taken place. I have summarized the contents of the transcript in the following paragraph.

    On August 17, 1963, the B-26 crash site was located. A small team was sent in to secure and clear an area near the base of a mountain ~2 miles from the crash site. During the night while guarding the clearing, one of the men was actually eaten by a Tiger! It turns out that tigers hunt at night and they believe the tiger thought the man was probably a deer. The next morning, a second team was brought to the sight by helicopter via multiple trips due to high winds. This second team proceeded up the mountain to retrieve the crew. By the time they reached the plane, it was clear that the Viet Cong had already been through the plane and had taken any item that they felt they could use as well as carry. The search team retrieved the bodies and detonated a remaining 750 lb bomb that had not exploded during the crash. The team quickly proceeded down the mountain and returned to the military base that afternoon with the B-26 crew. During the debrief, it became apparent that the retrieval of the B-26 wing was critical in order to understand exactly what had happened. Until this was determined, the B-26’s would not be permitted to fly bombing runs. The team quickly put together a plan to return to the crash site with the proper explosives in order to retrieve the wing or parts of the wing to determine what caused the wing to come off. They would use plastic explosives to cut the spars off the wing and return them to the base. They set two charges; however, when the first charge went off the second charge was disabled. They reset the second charge and successfully separated the spars. It took the team an hour and ten minutes to hike up to retrieve the wing and 35 minutes to come out. The team all returned successfully and received the Bronze Star with V clasp for heroism. The Army crew that flew the team was given the Distinguished Flying Cross. As a result of this mission, the wings on the B-26 were strengthened and the B-26’s were cleared to resume bombing runs.

    And now the rest of the story. Freda began to sort out the significant life-changing event that fate had dealt her. One option was to move back to West Virginia or New York to join her or Mac’s family. To some this may have seemed to be the obvious or easiest choice. A second more difficult option was to stay in Florida and return to the work force. Freda chose the second option by staying in Florida and returning to the work force. Freda joined the Civil Service as a secretary at Eglin Air Force Base in Northwest Florida. With some sense of stability returning to her life, Freda then made the decision to pursue her college degree by attending night school. I seem to remember that this was about a twelve-year process. What didn't seem like a big deal to me then, seems like an impossible task to me now. How in the world she ever accomplished what she did and has I will never know. I am just now starting to comprehend the significance. What a remarkable achievement from a remarkable lady. Heroes come from many walks of life. How lucky my brothers and I are to have had two heroes to model our lives after. We are truly blessed.

    Freda never remarried and continues to live in Northwest Florida near Hurlburt Field. In 1964, several of the streets on Hurlburt Field were renamed after Viet Nam war heroes. One of the streets was named after "Captain John Howard McClean". A second street was named after John's co-pilot, "First Lieutenant Arthur E. Bedal".

    Freda retired from the Civil Service several years ago and enjoys golf, Atlanta Braves baseball games, the stock market when it is going up, her 3 sons and her 6 grandchildren. What a remarkable lady. My Mom. My hero.

    An interesting side note to this event can be found under another remembrance posted to the Virtual Wall for Mac’s co-pilot, Arthur (Skip) E. Bedal. This remembrance provides information to say that the B-26 that Mac and Skip flew had just returned the night before the crash from Taiwan where the plane had been refurbished by the China Air Transport Company. This is information that my family had never known before reading this remembrance.


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The Wall of Faces

Brought to you by the organization that built The Wall, the Vietnam Veterans Virtual Memorial Wall is dedicated to honoring, remembering and sharing the legacies of all those who died in the Vietnam War. Here you can go beyond the names on The Wall to see the faces, share the stories and read the remembrances posted by friends, neighbors, classmates and family members.