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Recruiter Journal
Lt. Col. McCarthy’s great uncle, Frank Scahill, a
World War I Silver Star recipient.
How one Retired Soldier answered the
call to inspire the next generation

By Paul D. Prince
ASA M&RA/ Army G-1 Public Affairs Office
July 07, 2017

WASHINGTON — Many individuals who have earned the title "Soldier' came to join the U.S. Army after witnessing commercials, billboards, watching world events on the news or even due to the influence of a family member who served. For retired Lt. Col. Larry McCarthy, his decision to consider military service was not a result of his father's legacy but the inspiring stories told by his great uncle, who retired from service at Fort Lewis, Wash. in 1947.

Today, McCarthy continues in his uncle's "footsteps' by leveraging any chance he gets to share his personal accounts of life in the U.S. Army. Just this past February, the proud retired colonel spoke to 7th and 8th grade students during the Hocker Grove Middle School Career Fair in Shawnee, Kan.

"My dad served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II, but he didn't talk much about his service," McCarthy said. "However, my great uncle Frank Scahill's stories of military service and the people and situations he had to deal with both in combat and in training were very special to me. I think that is what motivated me to serve."

Scahill was a World War I Silver Star recipient and retired as the post sergeant major at Fort Lewis, Wash. in 1947, according to McCarthy. About 23 years later, the sergeant major's stories resonated with his nephew and inspired him to enlist in the Army at Kansas City, Mo., in February 1970.

During the third quarter of the school year, Hocker Grove Middle School faculty and administrators focus on careers, according to school's principal, Ben Pretz.

Pretz's grandfather served in the Army and was a World War II veteran.

"At the middle school level, we utilize our "Eagle Hour' time to do personal inventories, skill tests and career research," he said. "The career fair is our culminating event to give our students a great opportunity to meet practitioners in the field in which they may be interested and learn about the variety of skills and the education needed for students to enter these career paths."

McCarthy saw an ad promoting the career fair and quickly responded asking school officials if representatives of the military would be welcomed to speak at the event. This year was the second time the Hocker Grove Middle School hosted the event; however this time, would the first anyone would speak about careers available in America's Army.


Born in Kansas City, Mo., but reared by his parents in Overland Park, Kan., McCarthy enlisted in the Army as a 26V20 or enlisted strategic microwave systems repairer, his military occupational specialty. However, he never worked much in that capacity while enlisted. After being medevaced from Vietnam, he was assigned to a direct support electronic maintenance shop, where he worked as a 26L20 [enlisted Army tactical microwave systems repairer] located half way between Seoul, Korea and the Army Support Command Depot. During his last year as an enlisted Soldier, McCarthy worked as a draftsman.

McCarthy later received a direct commission to be a civil affairs officer. He spent his first seven years working in civil affairs and psychological operations in the U.S. Army Reserve. On active duty, his career highlights include spending five years as an operations officer in Oklahoma; four years working at Human Resources Command then in St. Louis, Mo.; another stint in operations at the civil affairs command headquartered in Pensacola, Fl.; two years as a comptroller in California at the 91st Division; and finally as the deputy commander at Fort McCoy, Wis. until his retirement."

"As an enlisted man, the Signal Corps was a great fit," McCarthy said. "As a civil affairs officer on active duty working primarily in operations, the planning skills I learned from a very young age were greatly enhanced during my active service in the Army." Upon transitioning from the military, McCarthy went to work with Northrop Grumman where he felt well prepared by the myriad skills he learned in the Army.


Following his presentation, McCarthy was visited by one student who wondered if joining the Army was gender restrictive.

"One young lady came back after our second session and asked if women could really serve in the military," he said. "Of course...," he responded in the affirmative! McCarthy spent about 33 years in military service, and six years as an Army contractor. However, one major highlight for him was the opportunity to work with "the people, Soldiers Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Civilians."

Military service has been a long standing tradition in the McCarthy family and may continue through his own immediate family.

"[My] son, Mason, grew up moving from town to town and has never seriously considered military service," he said. However, [my] daughters are considering military service and may try to join the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program in high school."

McCarthy's advice to other Retired Soldiers and veterans on how to support the Army's Hire and Inspire initiative seems simple:

"Contact the local schools in your area. Offer to "tell your story' to school administrators," he said. "If they don't have a "career day,' suggest they start a program."

Sgt. Joshua Perlinger, an Army recruiter in the local area, was "an absolute necessity in making this event a success" according to McCarthy. Perlinger teamed up with McCarthy for the career fair presentation.

"I am 66 years old and despite having retired only 10 years ago, I'm sure Sgt. Perlinger's stories about his three tours in Afghanistan were much more current to these young people than anything I could offer, McCarthy said. "The Army works as a team and that is exactly what Sgt. Perlinger, and I did at Hocker Grove Middle School."

McCarthy also urges other Retired Soldiers and veterans to contact a local Army recruiter for support and guidance.

"These men and women are out in the public eye all the time and will have probably built inroads to the schools," he explained. The worst thing the school administrators can do is tell you they're not interested."


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