2011-08-23 / Front Page

McCready Still Smiling 67 Years After Sacrificing His Arm In WWII


Monday, August 22, marked the 67th anniversary of when Cloverdale resident and World War II U.S. Army First Lieutenant Richard ‘Dick’ McCready lost his left arm in battle. (Staff Photo) Monday, August 22, marked the 67th anniversary of when Cloverdale resident and World War II U.S. Army First Lieutenant Richard ‘Dick’ McCready lost his left arm in battle. (Staff Photo) One of the friendliest and most pleasant people I’ve had the opportunity to meet in my nearly four years here with the Spencer Evening World has been Cloverdale resident and World War II U.S. Army First Lieutenant, Richard McCready.

A friend of another Cloverdale native, former SEW Editor Tom Douglas, McCready treated me like Tom’s long-lost son when I first met him in 2009. Dick is featured on page 49 of my book, ‘World War II Chronicles of Owen County.’ Always wearing a smile, Dick, as most people call him, has yet to meet a stranger in his 91 years.

For the last 67 of those 91 years, McCready has dealt with a sacrifice given during his service in World War II when he lost his left arm in battle. Monday, August 22, was Dick’s 67th anniversary of saying goodbye to his arm while serving overseas in France.

“We landed in southern France on the 15th of August and we were there for just a week when I went out to set-up an Operating Post and got shanghaied by a bunch of Germans,” McCready explained. “It was a long time ago. The nice part about was, I was young enough that when I lost my arm it never bothered me. When it came time for retirement, I took retirement instead of going the (disabled) way, which would have been probably twice as much a month as the retirement figure was. I decided the hell with it, because if I went retirement, the only way they can change it is with an act of congress.”

Picked up in France by Germans, McCready was taken to the closest town where a French doctor amputated his arm.

“I guess about 10 or 12 days later, the Germans left town and some MPs came into the hospital. They got an ambulance and put me in there with the lieutenant who had lost his leg,” he explained. “A kid who was in the room with me had gotten some bullets in his rib cage, but they didn’t have any x-ray equipment to help him. They took us to a field hospital. But the next morning they put me on a stretcher and put me in an ambulance again with two other guys. The three of us went to an airport and we landed in Rome.”

Taken to a general hospital for two and a half months, McCready became well-known by the hospital staff.

“I used to have a lot of fun in the hospital. There were some amputees in there who were having problems. One guy in particular had lost his leg and he wasn’t about to write his folks,” he said. “We sat down at the typewriter and had a little chat. When I got up and left, he was typing a letter to his mom and dad. He changed his mind completely. The nurse told one of the doctors and they had me going around to the different wards talking to the guys who were having trouble. Man, it never bothered me at all. When I got home I had 60 days leave. After that leave time was up, I started looking for a job. I went to work as a claim adjuster. After 35 years, I finally retired.”

McCready also shares his sense of humor anytime he gets a chance. He recently recalled a trip to a veterans’ watering hole.

“I told my daughter that I used to have fun going to the American Legion on the lake up at Rochester. I would tell the bartender, ‘This is my anniversary... it’s about time for you to buy me a drink,’” McCready said. “He said, ‘You guys were married in August?’ I said, ‘No, we were married in July, but this is my other anniversary, the anniversary of when I lost my arm over in southern France.’ He said, ‘Hell, yes, I’ll buy you a drink.’ I never paid for another one that evening.”

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