1SGT George Daniel McCartney
6th U.S. Army; 9th U.S. Army Corp of Engineers;
2nd Engineer Special Brigade, 115th Engineer Battalion,
Company C, Company F, 532d Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment
-- Georgia Kay McCartney --
George Daniel McCartney was born May 7, 1916, in Neoga, Illinois, to
Raymond and Elsie McCartney. He had three brothers and one sister. His
father worked for the Illinois Central Railroad. In the latter part of the
1930s, their father got sick with an ulcer, and had to take a leave of
absence from his job. As a result, my father and his two older brothers
dropped out of school and got jobs so that they could support the family.
My father moved to Champaign, Illinois, where he met my mother at the home
of some friends. Then in the spring of 1941, when Europe was at war with
Germany, the draft board in Washington, DC, assigned numbers to every man
of military age. Men were then drafted into active military duty each time
that numbers were drawn at random out of a fish bowl. My father's number
was 71 and was among the first set of numbers to be drawn for Champaign
County. He reported to Fort Sheridan, Illinois, during March, 1941 and was
then sent to Camp Roberts, California, for basic training.
On Monday, December 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed,
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the declaration of war granted by
Congress. Camp Roberts was immediately evacuated after Pearl Harbor. And
for the next several months, the troops were constantly on the move
throughout the country, sleeping on football fields, campgrounds, any place
that could accommodate a large number of soldiers.
My father was finally stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington in April, 1942.
But shortly after arriving, he was quickly promoted from corporal to tech
sergeant to staff sergeant all within a time span of nine months.
In September, 1942, my father was sent to Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, for
training with the 2d Engineering Special Brigade (2d ESB) - formerly known as
the Engineer Amphibian Command. This special brigade was born on the sandy
shore of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on June 20, 1942. Their purpose was to
organize and train army personnel in the operation of landing craft, which
were 2-1/2 ton amphibious vehicles designed and manufactured by General
Motors Corporation. The model number was "DUKW," but the army called them
As winter set in on the cod, it became necessary to move to a warmer
climate in order to continue training. So the 2d ESB moved to Carrabelle,
Florida, but had no sooner set up camp when they received orders to
immediately relocate to Fort Ord, California. The 2d SEB then shipped out
in mid-January to Australia. My father's tour of duty in the Pacific
Theater started from Townsville, Australia, on February 23rd and ended on
the Philippine Islands in December, 1944 when my father received word that
his mother had a stroke and was not expected to live much longer. So the
U.S. Army sent him home. And General MacArthur had my father flown to the
states in his own personal plane. He was discharged from the U.S. Army as
sergeant first class in August, 1945.
While in the Pacific Theater, my father was assigned to the 532d Engineer
Boat & Shore Regiment of the 2d ESB commanded by Brigadier General William
F. Heavey. The 2d ESB was a major contributor to the U.S. victory in the
Pacific Theater. This brigade first entered combat in New Guinea and was
in more combat operations than any other unit in the Pacific.
General Douglas MacArthur, Commander-in-Chief of the Southwest Pacific
Theater of Operations, stated in a March 1945 memo to the War Department
that the 2nd ESB was "the most efficient Shore Party organization now
functioning in amphibious warfare," and that, "these regiments have
contributed in a large measure to the success of amphibious operation in
The U.S. Army awarded him the following ribbons and medals: Good Conduct
Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal,
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, National Defense
Service Medal, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, and the Presidential
Unit Citation (formerly called the Distinguished Unit Badge).
My father was awarded the Good Conduct Medal because his character was
above reproach, he willingly complied with the demands of his military
environment, was loyal and obedient to his superiors, supported the goals
of the Army, and conducted himself in such an exemplary manner as to
distinguish himself from his fellow soldiers.
My father died of a heart attack on April 1, 1952, at the age of 35. The
two years that he lived in the jungles of the Pacific islands took their
toll on his heart. After returning home to civilian life, he continued to
suffer from the effects of malaria and jungle rot. The autopsy indicated
that his heart had aged considerably. He did not have the heart of a
35-year old man, but the heart of someone who was much older.
My memories of him are that he was enthusiastic about life, generous with
his time and money, laughed a lot, and spent a lot of time with me doing
things that were often spur of the moment, but lots of fun. I felt safe
and secure when I was with him. Though my years with him were few, I miss
The legacy that my father left me was twofold. He left me roots--a good
work ethic, and he loved my mother. He left me wings. By serving his
country so well during a time of war and ultimately sacrificing his life in
the process, he taught me to face adversity with a determination to rise
above it, the belief that good can come out of it, and the faith in our
ability to make it happenšto be part of the answer and not part of the
Thank you dad. I'm so proud of you.
(1) History of the Second Engineer Special Brigade, United States Army,
World War II. The Telegraph Press, Harrisburg, PA; 1946.