Sunday, June 12, 2011

St. Cajetan Mass for Veterans and Serving Heroes Today at 2 P.M.

The religious ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at St. Cajetan Church, 2445 W. 112th St. There will be a brief Mass, or blessing, followed by a ceremony complete with Chicago Fire Department bagpipers and World War II Rangers and veterans leading the pledge.

Retired military serviceman Mike Vasko, who served 21 years in the Navy and three years in the Army National Guard, said he also wants to take time to thank spouses from back home.

“I just want to say ‘thank you’ to our wives and kids, they should get the rewards as well,” Vasko said.

Chicago-area military families who lost loved ones will be presented with flags that flew in combat and then at Ground Zero in New York City.

A New York City firefighter, who was in the World Trade Center when it collapsed, will present those honors.

“Our goal is to fill up the church and really show these guys how much we love them,” McCauley said.

The McCarthy Group is a group of Chicago police and firefighters, New York City firefighters and several combat veterans formed in honor of Col. Joseph McCarthy*, McCauley said. McCarthy was a Chicago firefighter and World War II veteran.

Joseph Jeremiah McCarthy (August 10, 1911 – June 15, 1996) was a mustang officer in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, who served during World War II and the Korean War. He was also the Superintendent of Ambulances in the Chicago Fire Department,[1] however, with respect for his wartime heroics, firefighters continued to address him by his wartime military rank of "Captain."[2]
Historian Bill D. Ross would write about him in 1985:
McCarthy was thirty three; overage for a company commander. He was Irish and he looked it: husky, red complexioned, pug nose. Superior officers sometimes found his manner abrasive, but unlike many Irishmen, he wasn't talkative. He was, in fact, laconic and tight-lipped. "I don't like malarkey or bullshit," the Chicagoan often said. But Joe McCarthy knew the uncompromising business of battle; he had the Silver Star for leading his company up a savagely contested hill on Saipan and his men called him "the best damned officer in the Marine Corps."[3]
The building that houses the headquarters of 2nd Battalion 24th Marines in Chicago is named in his honor. Lieutenant Colonel McCarthy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery[2] following a funeral mass at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.[4]Medal of Honor citationMarine Corps service

McCarthy first enlisted in the Marine Corps on February 20, 1937 in Chicago and served for four years. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, he re-enlisted and returned to active duty in February 1942. In June of that year, he was discharged with the rank of first sergeant in order to accept a commission in the Marine Corps Reserve.
McCarthy joined the 4th Marine Division shortly thereafter, and went overseas in January 1944. While deployed, he took part in the Roi-Namur, Saipan-Tinian, and Iwo Jima campaigns. He was awarded the Silver Star for heroism as a rifle company commander on Saipan in 1944. He received the Purple Heart with Gold Star for wounds received in action on Saipan and Iwo Jima.
On February 21, 1945, as a captain, he earned the Medal of Honor on Iwo Jima, while leading an assault team across exposed ground to wipe out positions holding up the advance of his company. "I was scared all the time," McCarthy said later. "Any man tells you he wasn't scared was an imbecile. But you dealt with it."[4] President Harry S. Truman presented the Medal of Honor to McCarthy in ceremonies at the White House, held on October 5, 1945. As Truman presented the Medal, he told McCarthy, "I'd rather have one of these than be President."[4]
Released from active duty following the war, he held the grade of lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve.[5]
[edit]After the war

In 1949, McCarthy drove from Maine to North Carolina visiting the families of 26 Marines who had been killed in action on Iwo Jima. Each one of them, he told the families, had been just as brave as he was, just not as lucky.[4]
McCarthy was the Grand Marshall of the City of Chicago's St. Patrick's Day Parade in 1959.[6]
McCarthy retired from the Marine Corps Reserve in 1971 and from the Chicago Fire Department in 1973. Thereafter, he and his wife split their time between homes in Wisconsin and Delray Beach, Florida. His wife, Anita, died in 1978. The couple had no children.[4]
"I would hope and pray there never be another Medal of Honor issued," he said in a 1992 interview. "I hope and pray there's never any more wars."[4]

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of a rifle company attached to the 2d Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, on 21 February 1945. Determined to break through the enemy's cross-island defenses, Capt. McCarthy acted on his own initiative when his company advance was held up by uninterrupted Japanese rifle, machine gun, and high-velocity 47mm. fire during the approach to Motoyama Airfield No. 2. Quickly organizing a demolitions and flamethrower team to accompany his picked rifle squad, he fearlessly led the way across 75 yards of fire-swept ground, charged a heavily fortified pillbox on the ridge of the front and, personally hurling hand grenades into the emplacement as he directed the combined operations of his small assault group, completely destroyed the hostile installation. Spotting 2 Japanese soldiers attempting an escape from the shattered pillbox, he boldly stood upright in full view of the enemy and dispatched both troops before advancing to a second emplacement under greatly intensified fire and then blasted the strong fortifications with a well-planned demolitions attack. Subsequently entering the ruins, he found a Japanese taking aim at 1 of our men and, with alert presence of mind, jumped the enemy, disarmed and shot him with his own weapon. Then, intent on smashing through the narrow breach, he rallied the remainder of his company and pressed a full attack with furious aggressiveness until he had neutralized all resistance and captured the ridge. An inspiring leader and indomitable fighter, Capt. McCarthy consistently disregarded all personal danger during the fierce conflict and, by his brilliant professional skill, daring tactics, and tenacious perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, contributed materially to the success of his division's operations against this savagely defended outpost of the Japanese Empire. His cool decision and outstanding valor reflect the highest credit upon Capt. McCarthy and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.[1][7]

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