Veteran of the Month: Jack McClary


By Joyce Ervin

A favorite son of Milan, 100-year-old Capt. Jack McClary, a World War II veteran, was recently honored at a University of Michigan football game as “Veteran of the Game”.
While the crowd cheered the alumnus, a short history of his military service, collegiate career and employment at the university, scrolled over the field screen. McClary earned a bachelor’s degree and a Masters of Business Administration degree from the university graduating both Summa Cum Laude.
McClary was drafted in 1939 and was mustered out in 1945 with a Bronze Star to his credit. While stateside, after Officer Candidate School, he was put in charge of a little-known “drone program” used to train battery artillery, and he led the drone maintenance staff.
With a snafu the Army is famous for, McClary found himself, with his large artillery background, in North Africa moving northward with the Italian invasion force as a forward observer team leader reporting and spotting German positions.
It seems training artillery fighters, in a headquarters company under 5 th Army General Mark Clark, was destined to be his for the duration, as he was the only artillery training officer present in the entire European theater and had exactly the experience they needed.
As the Americans advanced northward, the supply lines were getting longer and longer and the Luftwaffe were picking off the convoys. Placing machine guns atop the convoy vehicles to fire at the enemy was only one of his ideas. His expertise saved many American lives.
McClary spent his post-war career solving various financial problems at troubled hospitals around the country putting them back on a sound financial footing. His duties sometimes included testifying to state legislators to increase funding, fixing internal procedures and solving Medicare billing problems.
McClary came to Milan in the early 1950s to work at the University of Michigan, with his wife, Betty of 68-years, a critical care surgical RN. They raised three sons.
He is a member of the VFW Chapter 423 in Ann Arbor, and Peoples Presbyterian Church in Milan. He is also an active member at the Milan Senior Center. He taught economics briefly at Concordia University and was a scout master mentoring Explorer Scouts.

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