UNION — The public is invited to join the congregation of Philippi Baptist Church Sunday night to hear a “U.S. Marine for Christ” share his story of suffering and salvation.
In a statement released Thursday, Rev. Tommy Mann, Associate Pastor at Philippi Baptist Church, announced that Patrick Cleburne “Clebe” McClary will be the guest speaker at the church’s 6 p.m. service Sunday.
McClary, a Lowcountry native, was a football coach just weeks away from getting married in 1967 when he witnessed an event on a college campus that would change his life forever — the burning of an American flag by students protesting the Vietnam conflict. Dismayed by the lack of support for the country he loved, McClary resigned his coaching position and volunteered for the U.S. Marine Corps. After completing Officers Training School in Quantico, Va., McClary, now a first lieutenant, was deployed to Vietnam where he served as platoon leader of the 1st Recon Battation.
On March 13, 1968, during his 19th recon patrol, McClary’s unit engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy. McClary suffered devastating injuries, which included the loss of his left arm and left eye. Nevertheless, McClary continued to lead his men, an achivement that would result in his being presented with the Silver Star and Bronze Star by the president of the United States.
McClary’s next battle was recoverning from his wounds, a process that took place over the course of two years in military hospitals where he underwent more than 30 major surgeries followed by many hours of physical therapy. Just as he didn’t give up in the face of the enemy, McClary didn’t give up in the face of his injuries and the long recovery process, but persevered and triumphed like the Marine he is.
In the years since, McClary has become a motivational speaker who, according to his website (www.clebemcclary.com) has “spoken in all 50 states and 30 foreign countries.” As a motivational speaker, McClary has shared his story of how he “rebuilt his devastated life” and is now “in the service of the Lord’s Army. His life shows that he genuinely embodies the vow he took when entering the Marines: Any mission assigned will be accomplished in a superior manner, no matter what the obstacles. Clebe is what he likes to call a complete Marine. To him, USMC will always mean a U. S. Marine for Christ.”
McClary has used his powerful story of courage, determination and strength to motivate audiences the world over, a story that he will share Sunday evening at Philippi Baptist Church.
“We’re honored to have him, a man who served his country and now is serving his Lord,” Mann said. “We’re just looking forward to hearing him and praying that God will do something big on Sunday night.”