Marines present Silver Star, bronze bust to fallen comrade’s family
By Staff Sgt. Jason S. Fischer
| | May 13, 2005
SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – --
Residents of Shelbyville, a small Tennessee town, were recently paid a special visit by United States Marines donned in their dress blues. The visit was a bright point in a tragic story of sacrifice and heroism.
Marines from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C., descended upon the Shelbyville Court House to present the Silver Star (posthumously) to the family of Pfc. Daniel McClenney. Survivors of Servicemen is an organization which raises funds to present bronze busts in the likenesses of fallen servicemen and women. During this ceremony, the organization presented the first of approximately 1,500 busts nationwide to the town of Shelbyville. McClenney was killed June 24, 2004 while fighting the War on Terror in Afghanistan.
While on patrol in the mountainous Konar Province of Afghanistan, McClenney’s fire team was ambushed from two separate positions. His fire team leader was killed in the initial burst of fire, at which point McClenney took over radio communications, successfully calling for support and medical evacuation. He fought despite a gunshot wound to the abdomen and a broken arm, eventually fighting hand-to-hand with the enemy, until he succumbed to his injuries.
According to Lance Cpl. Brian Molby, the fire team’s squad automatic weapon machine gunner said McClenney saved his life by performing well under fire.
“McClenney was a stand-up Marine, always willing to learn,” Molby remembered. “If he didn’t work the radio like he did, my fellow Marines would not have gotten to us so fast – he was selfless and had amazing heart.”
The late-morning ceremony in a court house filled with friends, family and total strangers included a Marine Corps Color Guard and 21-Gun Salute provided by the Nashville Marine Corps Reserve Unit, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, India Company.
McClenney’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Julian D. Alford, addressed the crowd before presenting the Silver Star to McClenney’s father, Randy McClenney. He spoke sincerely of McClenney’s sacrifice.
“His life was lived as an example of decency and his death a costly price for freedom,” he said. “His fellow Marines continue to feel his absence and they will never be the same. But they are more committed to the causes of liberty.”
Randy McClenney accepted the medal and citation, which he said he’ll place in a curio cabinet he recently bought to house his son’s medals and mementos.
“This medal means so much to me,” he said. “It’s something I can look at everyday and think of my son.”
Molby spoke of the heroism he witnessed McClenney display that day.
“He was exceptional and fought to his last breath,” Molby said. “He did everything he could to stop the terrorists.”
McClenney’s father added, “I’m so proud of what Daniel did that day – he gave it his all and didn’t give up,” he said. “He was a hard worker and he always wanted to be a Marine.”
Alford said it is important to remember the sacrifices and final acts of Marines like McClenney.
“It is right that Daniel’s bust will be displayed in this building, so that generations to follow will stand in front of this monument and ask, ‘Who is this great man?’” he said. “Monuments do that for us, they provide a type of immortality, and they force us to remember. But Daniel has achieved another type of immortality, the type that lives on in the hearts of men.”