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Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

3280 Russell Road, 2nd Floor Quantico, Va. 22134
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Vietnam Vet Visit Inspires Recruiters

By Sgt. Amanda R. Hay | | December 15, 2000

DEPTFORD, N.J. -- Recruiters started to feel the pain as the ?FMAM? season started early when the hunt for high school graduates kicked off in full swing.

It was perfect timing for a motivational speech for the Marines of RSS South Jersey courtesy of 1stLt. Clebe McClary at a local prayer breakfast in Deptford, N.J.

During his tour of duty in Vietnam, McClary suffered the loss of one eye, his left arm and had 33 operations to retain usage of the rest of his body.

After rebuilding his life, McClary has since dedicated himself to serving humanity by traveling all over the world to share his faith and positive story; or as he called it ?serving in the Lord?s Army.?

Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Kinkler, NCOIC of RSS South Jersey, made sure his Marines got up bright and early one morning to join him to listen to a walking, talking miracle.

?Although Marines on recruiting duty may not have physical war wounds, they definitely face the emotional wear and tear of the ongoing (recruiting) battle,? Kinkler said. ?It?s good for them to hear such a positive story and it also gives them a chance to refresh their memories of what the Marine Corps stands for.?

With a patch over one eye and a hook for an arm, the distinguished Vietnam veteran and silver star recipient briefly shared his story of Vietnam at the beginning of his speech.    

As he continued, he shared his pain with his audience. At the same time he showed a great deal of humor and humility. His deep Southern drawl and quite a few mentions of his wife, family and devotion completed a picture of a perfect Southern gentleman

He encouraged people to think about how precious they are and how much they?re worth. He asked, ?How many of you would sell your arm to me for a million dollars? Would you sell an eye?? As the 150 people in attendance listened attentively, McClary went on to describe that they all are worth millions. ?You need to recognize that fact and treat yourselves as if you were millionaires because you are.?    

He also emphasized the importance of humanity as a whole. ?We need to take care of each other. The smallest things can make the biggest difference. Don?t pass up an opportunity to say something nice to someone or let someone know a good quality they have. It can make a big difference in their life.?

Though recruiters talk about the intangibles daily to young Americans, seeing and listening to a living-proof example made the difference between night and day.

?With the job of recruiting duty it?s sometimes easy to get de-motivated,? Kinkler said. ?We all have to have the attitude that we all are Marines first and we can get through anything.?

McClary?s words can also make any Marine out here grateful, Kinkler said. ?Regardless of the long hours we work here at least we don?t have people shooting at us.?

The South Jersey recruiters agreed that the messages were well received. ?I learned a tremendous amount from him,? SSgt. James Knapp, RSS South Jersey recruiter, said.  ?Don?t feel sorry for yourself. Regardless of how bad it gets out here, it?s still not as bad as he had it and he?s doing great.?

?It made me take a step back and realize why I put on this uniform," Sgt. Eric Steiner, RSS South Jersey recruiter, said.

After McClary spoke at the prayer breakfast he proceeded on to two high schools to speak to students.

?I like to go to high schools to talk not only to share my story, but to plant the seed for them to serve their country,? McClary said. ?I believe every young man needs to join. Even if they only went to boot camp and then did two years of service. They need to learn to serve others, respect themselves and each other. The world would be a better place. I?m a firm believer in that.?

According to Ron Taylor, former Marine and Vice Principal of Deptford Township High School, said he was honored to have McClary speak to his students.

?They need to hear these kind of positive messages. A lot of (the students) take too much for granted. They need to enjoy life and appreciate everything they have. He is a perfect example of the reality of Vietnam and the sacrifices people made.?

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