"...A coward turns away, but a brave man's choice is danger..."
You've heard of heroes. How about an extraordinary hero? Who is Clebe McClary and why him?
Clebe McClary chose to delay his promising college coaching career. Instead he chose to serve his country in the US Marine Corps. His mission: lead dangerous reconnaissance patrols deep into enemy territory. On the 19th mission, he found himself in hand to hand combat where he nearly lost his life. During that mission, he saved many lives. But it came with a price. Over 30 surgeries later, Clebe lost his left eye and left arm. For Clebe, nothing is impossible. This extraordinary modern day hero now shares his speeches across the nation.
For most people, 1967 was a year like the one before it. But for Lieutenant Clebe McClary, it was the beginning of an unforgettable time in his life. While many of us were just doing our daily business, half way around the world in the steamy jungles of Vietnam, Clebe McClary fought a determined enemy according to official USMC records. Incredibly, Clebe McClary not only survived horrific battles, two years in hospitals, 30 operations, physical therapy ---his story is one of gut-wrenching, inspirational attitude.
Clebe McClary should be dead. But the fact that he nearly died did not stop him from earning 13 medals... including the Silver Star. Wikipedia writes of the Silver Star as "...the third-highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of any branch of the United States Armed Forces for valor in the face of the enemy..."
It was my crazy idea to drive over 500 miles to hear an unknown person give a speech. But Clebe McClary came to life for me that cold winter night in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You see, I was going through an emotional low from my special duty. I had a similar role as the military officer in the scene you probably saw from the movie "Saving Private Ryan". My duty was to notify a young family of the loss of their son during battle. On behalf of a grateful nation, I hid my tears and emotional pain and delivered the carefully prepared speech to a widow and a fatherless son.
Finally, the long awaited guest speaker of the evening. A wounded warrior. As Clebe slowly made his way to the speaker's podium, you could hear a pin drop. He did not command attention. What he got was respect and admiration.
For a man dressed in a sparkling US Marine Corps dress uniform. With a black colored eye patch over his left eye and no left arm, Clebe delivered the speech of a lifetime while standing erect in front of a huge American flag. But there's more to Clebe.
Sentence, after sentence, Clebe McClary spoke with a passion. His spellbinding speech glued the audience. Sentences were interrupted by clapping. The applause reached to a feverish pitch, ending with a standing ovation lasting a few minutes. What was my take-away that night that still endures all these years even during my time in Afghanistan and Iraq?
A simple acronym: FIDO. "Whatever your obstacles, think FIDO" Forget It, Drive On...said Clebe that night in Philadelphia.
And left me breathless.
Why is Clebe McClary such an inspirational, motivational speaker? Thanks to his life changing event and love of country, he now shares his experience with many audiences countrywide.
And he does this without skipping a beat.
But don't take me completely for my word.
Remember, there are heroes. And there are extraordinary heroes like Clebe McClary. This Memorial Day, May 31st, 2010, I want you to think about something...if there is a speaker you could choose to listen to right now, it is especially important that you first listen to Clebe McClary.
One last thing: "...Whatever your obstacles, think FIDO..." Forget It, Drive On...