Fred B. McGee, Sr., war hero, comic book superhero, & friend, born on Memorial Day, May 30, 1930, slipped away early Friday morning, January 3, 2020, at the VA Pittsburgh Hospital.
Fred B. McGee Sr. was that shining light on a hill, that light we are all called to be. From a bloody hill in Korea, to every hill & molehill within his own country, he was that shining light that dark forces of oppression could not dim.
In the early morning hours of June 16, 1952, Corporal Fred B. McGee of Bloomingdale, Ohio, distinguished himself in brutal combat on Hill 528, Tang-Wan-Ni, Korea, when sent to fight against an entrenched, numerically superior army. As gunner on a light machine gun in a weapons squad, Corporal McGee delivered a heavy volume of supporting fire from an exposed position, despite intense enemy machine gun & mortar fire directly on his position. When his squad leader was wounded and his second in command, paralyzed by the horrors around him, Corporal. McGee assumed command & moved the squad even further forward to a more exposed position in order to deliver neutralizing fire on an enemy machine gun sweeping the assault platoon with deadly flanking fire. When his machine gunner was mortally wounded, he again took over the gun. Though wounded in the face & leg, Corporal McGee heroically exposed himself by standing straight up in intense enemy machine gun & mortar fire as he attempted to evacuate the body of the company runner. After carrying his comrade 75-100 yards, Corporal McGee realized the man was deceased so he aided a second wounded man to be moved to the rear & safety through a high volume of enemy mortar & artillery fire. On the order to withdraw, he ordered his squad to withdraw & voluntarily remained behind to help evacuate the wounded & dead. The gallantry & courageous actions displayed by Corporal Fred B. McGee reflect great credit on himself and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.
For his actions, he received the Silver Star, not the Medal of Honor & battlefield commission promised him by his West Point commanding officer. Corporal McGee & his actions were immortalized in Heroic Comics during the Golden Age of Comics.
A Dream Deferred…notwithstanding his honors & accolades, the one prize that he’s most deserving of eluded his reach…the long-ago-promised Medal of Honor. Ironically, in 2009, The Congressional Medal of Honor Society, on National Medal of Honor Day, presented Mr. McGee with the Above & Beyond Citizen Honors Award, for his leadership & ‘conspicuous selflessness & intrepidity in service to his fellow Americans by going above & beyond the call of duty in the aid of others.’
In his civilian life, Mr. McGee continued to distinguish himself through his kind acts of selfless service & dedication to others. He loved to fish, hunt, & spend time with family & friends. He loved to talk, joke, & whistle a happy tune. Whenever anyone questioned whether he could do something, he would say, ‘Don’t you know who I am? I’m Superman!’
A decorated combat veteran, Mr. McGee was named the Jefferson County Veterans Service Commission Veteran of the Year 2019-2020. Sadly, he was only able to live out three months of his term.
In 2002, Corporal Fred B. McGee was inducted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor. The recipient of two Purple Hearts for the wounds he received on Hill 528, he was also inducted into the Military Order of the Purple Heart Hall of Fame in Newburgh, New York.
He is a Life Member of the American Legion (past Post #396 Commander), designated a Distinguished Member of the 17th Infantry Regiment, recipient of the Combat Infantrymen’s Badge w/Oak Leaf, Korean Service Medal w/Bronze Star, The United Nations Service Medal & the Peace Medal from the people of Korea. Mr. McGee was a member of the Combat Infantrymen’s Association, Military Order of the Purple Heart, American Veterans of Foreign Wars, Veterans Braintrust, Sons of the American Revolution (descendant of Patriot Henry Levi Dorton/Dalton), Disabled Veterans of America, Masonic Lodge #64, and the Jefferson County Veterans Association, which he formed with Mr. Ed Waldman & Mr. Gene Omaits (both past Jefferson County Veterans of the Year).
After his separation from active duty, he served in the Army Reserves. He returned to work at Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, retiring after 43 years. An accomplished baseball player, he had a tryout with the Kansas City A’s at a time when race was an issue. That reality may have kept him out of Major League Baseball. He coached & umpired both Little League & high school baseball. He also refereed high school football.
He was written into the Congressional Record in 2003, along with other brave patriots from the history books (Medal of Honor recipients, Distinguished Service Cross recipients, etc.).
He served as a distinguished panelist at Morgan State University’s academic conference, ‘No Longer Forgotten: African Americans in the Korean War.’ His session was, “What Price Freedom? Contributions of the Disenfranchised,’ There he presented, ‘The Impact of the Historic Delay/Denial of Medals, Pensions & Compensation to Marginalized Military Personnel.’
He was Grand Marshal for the Veterans Day 10K Walk/Run in Wheeling, WV. Most recently, in 2019, he was Grand Marshall for the Toronto (Ohio) Veterans Day Parade.
Mr. McGee was interviewed on WTRF-7 by Kathryn Ghion, the creator/producer of Veterans Voices, in 2019. More recently, for Veterans Day 2019, he was interviewed by Tara Jabour of WTOV9.
Fred B. McGee Sr. is preceded in death by his parents, Spanish & Pierrie McGee; brothers James, Walter, Claude, Edward, Ralph & Pete; sisters Ruby, Margaret & Sylvia; and special Uncle Denzil Dalton. He leaves to mourn his passing, his wife, Cornell, the love of his life for 65 years; sons Brian, Fred Jr. (Dana) & James (Kelly); daughters Victoria Frederica & Robin; Grandchildren Henry, Brandi (James), Tory (Vince), Kristen (Bailey), Tre (Tiana), Camden (Erika), Shannon, Joslyn, Joy, Riley & Christopher; sister Penie (Eugene); brother Spanish Jr.; brother-in-law Herb; sisters-in-law Jean & Bernadine, & childhood friend Norman Crease, as well as 11 great-grandchildren & a host of beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, & very special friends.
Visitation will be held on Friday, January 10, 2020, from 5 PM-8 PM and Saturday, January 11, from 10 AM-11 AM at Mount Carmel Community Baptist Church, 708 North Fifth Street, Steubenville, OH. A funeral service will immediately follow at 11AM. Interment at Northern Cemetery in Smithfield, OH.
Arrangements entrusted to Vinson Mortuary, Steubenville, Ohio. Online condolences may be extended to the family at www.vinsonhom.com.
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