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Veteran always ready to pitch in

September 28, 1998

Veteran of the YearBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




When American Legion Post 222 members need a helping hand preparing food for any of their numerous fund-raisers, World War II veteran James McCarty is there. He rolls up his sleeves and bakes potatoes or broils beef.

When the Clear Spring community's children had no organized recreational baseball teams, McCarty pitched in and helped form the Clear Spring Baseball League.

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When honor guard members are needed in funeral services for area veterans, McCarty can be counted on to organize volunteers.

In times of need, no matter what the job, McCarty has always been someone veterans can lean on. Showing their appreciation, McCarty was recently selected as Veteran of the Year by the Joint Veterans Council of Washington County.

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"He's a mover and a shaker. He does whatever needs to be done," said Ray S. Linebaugh, Joint Veterans Council secretary.

McCarty, 71, was chosen over six other veterans. Each candidate was nominated by Legion members.

In August, the Joint Veterans Council presented him with a plaque and he received proclamations from the Maryland House of Delegates and State Senate.

"The other individuals were good, but he was the tops - an all-around great volunteer,'' Linebaugh said of McCarty.

The council has been handing out the award for the past five years, said Linebaugh, who served during the Vietnam Conflict.

"It means a lot to me," said McCarty of the honor.

The Clear Spring native said he enjoys volunteering and seeing the difference his efforts can make.

As honor guard commander, he takes charge of military funeral arrangements. He secures veterans to perform flag duties, a gun salute and act as pallbearers.

Within the past year, McCarty has had to prepare for nine funerals, he said.

An accomplished cook, he takes particular satisfaction in preparing meals for underprivileged children staying at the Legion-sponsored Camp West Mar in Frederick County, Md., every July.

Coming from a big family, he learned to cook out of necessity, he said.

He and his sister were often called on to serve meals to his siblings because his mother suffered from debilitating sores on her hands, he said.

Despite his culinary skills, McCarty did not serve in mess halls during his tour of duty in the Philippines.

Instead, he served as a supply clerk. After being discharged in 1947, McCarty went on to work for the Maryland Correctional Institution.

McCarty has been a member of the American Legion for more than 10 years.

Winning the Veteran of the Year award has special significance because it is from his peers, he said. He was surprised when he found out he was chosen for the honor, he said.

"I didn't feel I had a chance in winning with the others. I thought maybe I could have done more," he said.

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