Charles Andrew MacGillivary

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Charles Andrew MacGillivary
Born (1917-01-07)January 7, 1917
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Died June 24, 2000(2000-06-24) (aged 83)
Brockton, Massachusetts, United States
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1942-1945
Rank Sergeant
Unit 71st Infantry, 44th Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Croix de guerre

Charles Andrew MacGillivary (January 17, 1917 - June 24, 2000) was a Medal of Honor recipient, born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. A Sergeant in the United States Army, he was attached to Company I, 71st Infantry, 44th Infantry Division during World War II.

Pre-War[edit]

Born to Cardigan Scot Roland MacGillivary and Minnie Quinn, he attended Queens Square School in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada and joined the Merchant Marines at age 16. Shortly thereafter, MacGillivary emigrated to the United States, to live with his older brother in Boston, Massachusetts. When living with his brother, he learned about the Army and considered joining it.

After hearing about the attack on Pearl Harbor, he decided the right thing to do was to volunteer for the U.S. Army. In January 1942, he joined the Army as a private soldier and was assigned to the European Theatre of Operations.

He told the United States Senate Subcommittee on Immigration 50 years later, that when he was in boot camp:

"an officer asked me and two other immigrants ... whether we wanted to become U.S. citizens. [They took us] to a federal courthouse and [swore us] in before a judge. I thought that if I was going to fight for this country, I should be a U.S. citizen."
President Harry S. Truman presents Charles MacGillivary with the Medal of Honor on August 25, 1945.

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

MacGillivary's first wartime action came during the Battle of Normandy, landing on Omaha Beach in 1944. From Omaha Beach MacGillivary would be involved in numerous battles throughout France, before reaching Wœlfling during the Battle of the Bulge.

When his unit was surrounded on January 1, 1945 by the 17th German Panzer Grenadier Division a Waffen-SS Panzer unit in Wœlfling, France, MacGillivary, then 27, picked up a machine gun and knocked out four German machine gun nests, killing 36 German soldiers. He lost his left arm in this action. Interestingly the unit he fought to win his decoration, was given the title Götz von Berlichingen after a 15th-century German knight who lost his right hand.

MacGillivary told a Boston Globe reporter in 1995:

"I looked down and my left arm wasn’t there. When you get hit by a machine gun, it’s like somebody put a hot poker in you. I stuck the stump of my arm into the snow, but the warm blood melted the snow. I figured I was dying. When they rescued me, my arm had a cake of bloody ice frozen around it, sealing the wound. If it had been summer, I’d [have been] dead."

On August 25, 1945 MacGillivary personally received a Medal of Honor for his efforts from President Harry S. Truman the award letter is as follows:

Complete text of citation available on image page.

Other awards[edit]

For other actions during World War II MacGillivary also received the Purple Heart with three oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Bronze Star Medal, the Soldier's Medal, and the French Croix de Guerre. He was also received the American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

He is honored with a bronze plaque on the lectern at the George Robert White Fund Memorial at the Veterans Memorial Park in the Back Bay Fens in Boston, Massachusetts.

Post-World War II[edit]

After the war MacGillivary returned home to Boston where for a short time he worked as a special agent for Boston's Treasury Department. He joined the United States Customs Service in 1950 starting as a warehouse officer, but soon became an agent for the United States Customs Office of Investigations, conducting special investigations. His daughter Charlene Corea remembered him as being particularly busy in the winter inspecting Christmas trees that entered the United States from Canada. He retired from the Customs Service in 1975.

Sergeant Charles A. MacGillivary was enrolled as a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts the third oldest chartered military organization in the world on April 6, 1992. He was the seventh member of the company to receive the Medal of Honor.

Death[edit]

MacGillivary was a resident of Braintree, Massachusetts from 1957 until his death at age 83 on Saturday June 24, 2000 in the VA Hospital in Brockton, Massachusetts. Rev. Philip Salois, who had himself received a Silver Star in the Vietnam War officiated at the funeral. Then Governor of Massachusetts Paul Cellucci was in attendance at MacGillivary's funeral. He is buried beside his wife, Esther, in Section 48 (grave 568) of Arlington National Cemetery.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.