Adam C. McClain
Private, United States Army
Old Guard Soldier laid to rest
by Michael Norris
An Old Guard Soldier was buried at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday.
Private Adam McClain, 20, a part of Headquarter, Headquarters Company, died March 10, 2006, not long after discovering, unexpectedly, that he had leukemia. An active-duty Soldier, McClain found out he had the disease after seeking treatment for symptoms he thought indicated pneumonia, according to a representative of the Old Guard public affairs office.
A memorial service held Wednesday at Fort Myer's Memorial Chapel was a sea of crisp blue-and-gold uniforms as McClain's fellow Old Guard Soldiers, family and friends paid last respects to the private.
Allen McClain praised his brother as "the greatest man I know," and said Adam had a "way of making people laugh," but more than that, he "touched people wherever he went."
"In many ways, he was the glue in our family," his brother said.
Old Guard, Headquarters Company Commander Captain James Morin said McClain "knew deep down, before he came to Fort Myer, what this place was all about." He cited the military service of previous generations of McClains as an important touchstone for the Soldier.
Two friends, Private Steven Whitlock and Private First Class John Han, also spoke on McClain's behalf.
Whitlock, quoting Socrates, said McClain "always looked at the positive side of things."
"He loved the guns platoon," Whitlock added.
Han talked about going through basic training with McClain, recalling how a drill sergeant made him repeatedly say "I will not quit," during a particularly grueling part of orientation. "He never quit," Han said, "-- even when it came to his last fight."
Battalion Chap. (Major) Kevin Stroop, read Bible passages from First Corinthians, emphasizing the enduring power of faith, hope and love.
A moving rendition of "Amazing Grace," by Army Band vocalist Sergeant First Class Antonio Giuliano and organist Robert Schaaf, chapel musical director, followed.
Regimental Chaplain (Captain) Stephen Pratel then expanded on Stroop's theme, extrapolating on the underlying qualities of faith and hope, but especially emphasizing love, explaining how the pillars of love -- "kindness, humility, respect, optimism, endurance" -- mirror the duties and obligations in the Soldier's creed.
Love, Pratel said, "is not a feeling or a word", but "a decision, an action ..."
"Every time you step up to the plate, you are a part of enabling our world to endure," Pratel said, addressing those in uniform. "Adam knew that.
"Adam's loss is not our first and it won't be our last. It is part of what we do."
After the benediction, Old Guard First Sergeant Jeffery Matherly faced his troops and led an abbreviated roll call, calling out four names. Three Soldiers answered the call in succession, indicating their presence by saying, "Here, first sergeant." Then McClain's name was called out, but this time there was no responding sound-off.
A moment of silence transpired.
From inside the chapel, the traditional, honorary volley of gunfire that followed sounded like drumbeats, the bugle for "Taps" especially mournful muffled and muted at a distance from mourners.
McClain was born in Marion, Indiana, and was a 2003 graduate of Oak Hill High School in Converse, Ind. He joined the Army in August 2005, took Advanced Individual Training at Fort Benning, Georgia, that same month and graduated as a mortar-man in December.
McClain served in the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment's Presidential Salute Battery for three months, acquiring the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
"It's sad to have someone so young, so new
to the Old Guard pass so unexpectedly," said Fort Myer Garrison Commander
Col. Thomas A. Allmon. "Although [Pfc.] McClain's loss is difficult to
accept, we must cherish the positive memories he left with his friends,
family and command. He was obviously an exemplary Soldier and credit to
the tradition of the Old Guard."
Posted: 22 April 2006 Updated: 8 June 2009
Photos By Holly, June 2009