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  Iron Lung Redux

Originally printed in September 2002 Newsletter of Army Signal Corps Officer Candidate Association

The following is taken from a letter received by the Association back in late June, 2002. The letter began I have a couple of stories to tell about Iron Lung McClung."

"In April of 1950 I returned from Korea and Japan and was assigned to the 229th Signal Operations Company at Ft. Monmouth. Our company was part of a provisional battalion commanded by none other than Major McClung. I recall meeting with a somewhat older than expected Major who had a very commanding presence. When you were with McClung you knew you were with a soldier!

"Some time after my first visit with him he held a close order drill for the officers of the battalion. We actually learned the manual of arms for the "grease gun!" This was, he explained, important because we were to have a series of ceremonies and parades and he did not want the officers who were armed with that weapon to be embarrassed. I, like many of my colleagues, wondered if he was missing his days in OCS. We certainly did not need any training with the grease gun we said scornfully. As usual with McClung, he was right we did have a parade and we were armed with the grease gun. We were fortunate to have had that bit of training.

"Along came the end of June and the North Korean attack on South Korea. I, like many others, went to Major McClung and asked to be reassigned to a unit bound for Korea. He looked into my request and informed me that Department of the Army policy forbad assignment to Korea for persons who had just returned from Korea and Japan. I reminded him that I was unmarried, had some experience in a variety of signal assignments, and so on. I asked him to reclama the DA decision. He said he thought I would be of more value training units for service in Korea and that was that. I learned that when he said no he meant it!

"Some years later I came back to Ft. Monmouth and there was Lt. Colonel McClung. I saw him occasionally and noted that as he grew older he did not mellow. He was always friendly and supportive, but he was always McClung.

"The last time I saw him was in 1965, when I became the post signal officer at Ft. Monmouth. He was a civilian by this time who was, I believe, a special assistant to Colonel Kimbrough, the commanding officer of the Signal Corps Engineering Laboratories. I had several contacts with him and he had not changed. He was always the same: a careful thinker, calmly steadfast in his views, and supportive of what he thought was right. I admired him."

/s/ Colonel Phillip E. Lowry, SigC (Ret) Class 6-47, Ft. Benning, GA 

P. S. I regret that I did not tell him how I felt about him.

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