The Gary McDermott Chronicles


Rodney R. Brown

Gary McDermott photo

I never expected that the Hillclimber Veterans Association would make it to Presidential politics, but that is just what has happened with an incident that has its roots in the 2008 Presidential campaign. Starting in June of that year I began to get emails, displaying a full range of political emotions, concerning something that the authors had seen at various places on the internet. All of the emails concerned Gary McDermott and a question that he had asked of Presidential candidate Barak Obama at a political event that took place in Iowa earlier that summer.

I spent a lot of time answering questions concerning whether Gary McDermott was real, was he really disabled, did he serve in Vietnam, did I know him, did he work for the Republicans, and on and on. Once the elections were over I thought that this issue would fade. However, peace is not at hand. This issue is still bubbling just below the surface and I fear will explode again with much more controversy than was evident in the first go round in 2008. In light of that observation I'm going to take the next few minutes and set the record straight using the Public Square that is the Internet.

I'm going to set some guidelines for this conversation before we go any further:

The Hillclimber Veterans Association is a non political group.

We do not and will not endorse any candidate, political party, political movement, or campaign.

We can be expected to support Veteran's issues, but it should be noted that up to this date we have not done so either officially or unofficially.

Facts about Gary McDermott:

He is a veteran of the US Army and the 147th Assault Support Helicopter Company (ASHC) having served during the Vietnam War.

Gary and I overlapped in Vietnam by about three months. I do have some memories of him.

Gary was not disabled in Vietnam. The disability occurred as the result of a diving accident after Gary left the Army. While he may not be disabled as a result of combat he is a Veteran and disabled and by definition is a “Disabled Veteran.”

Gary attended a public rally for Candidate Obama sometime in the Spring of 2008. At that rally he got the chance to ask Candidate Obama a question. Sometime after the rally Gary posted the following remarks on some blog somewhere:

Subject: Mudmarine

I am a VHCMA* member, I spent 12 months in Vietnam (147th CH47-CE**) as most of us did. I am also a disabled veteran; I have been a wheelchair user for 35 years now. A few months ago I went to listen to Barack Obama at a local college. When he was done with his speech I got in line to ask him a question. When my time came, my question was;

"Senator Obama; I work with disabled veterans throughout the VA Hospital system, what is your plan for our veterans, especially our disabled veterans who use the VA Hospitals for their care?"

I stated we need mandatory funding for our VA system to ensure the care is available when needed, especially in light of the current situation in Iraq and the numbers of troops who are coming home with severe disabilities.

He told one of his aides to get my name, blew me off, did not answer my question and I never heard from him or the aide again. Is this who we want to be our "Commander in Chief?"

He wouldn't even answer a "veterans" question, regarding other veterans. Take it for what it's worth.....just thought I'd pass on my experience with Mr. Obama.


Gary McDermott
147th ASH Hillclimbers
Vung Tau, RVN 68-69

CH 47 CE

If you are wishing for hope and change, you better know what the salesman is selling.

*VHCMA – Vietnam Helicopter Crew Member Association
**CE – US Army shorthand for “Crew Chief.”

Let me explain some things about this posting since this is what most people saw and reacted too when bombarding me with questions about Gary McDermott.

The items shown in red are NOT part of Gary's original post. Most people would not have any way of knowing the validity of the “hope and change” comment at the end of the post. The “Mudmarine” comment would have tipped off any military veteran with moderate intelligence who was half way conscious through their period of service. The Marines do not have CH-47 Chinook helicopters (despite their appearance in the Samuel Jackson film "Rules of Engagement"). They have CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters. Hollywood always takes literary license with the truth. It's a really bad personality defect that they have out there. However, the most glaring mistake in the heading is simply that I have never met or heard of a real Marine who would spell the name of their service without capitalizing all the letters in "MARINE."

Gary's question to Obama is a legitimate one, but in all honesty I would not have expected Candidate Obama to know the answer. The Reader's Digest version of the question is simply this: All federal agencies except the VA have permanent status as federal agencies. The VA has to be “reauthorized” each year as if it is somebodies new idea. This question should have been posed to Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush One & Two. All veterans and none of them moved to shore up the VA and get it out of the permanent “Step Child” status that it currently occupies among federal agencies.

When I originally had to bring this up with Gary to find out how to answer the emails I got the facts and confirmed to the mailers that Gary was real and I supplied them with a copy of Gary's unedited original post. During this process I never did ask Gary if he supported Obama. The reason is simple: I don't care.

This article is being written in March of 2010 and I still don't know Gary's political affiliations, party registration, or whether or not he supports Obama. I will not ask because it has nothing to do with his interaction with Candidate Obama.

This closes all conversation on this subject as far as I'm concerned. What I have said above covers the entire subject. Neither I nor the Association will involve ourselves in “he said, she said” back and forth mailings. Whether you love Obama or hate Obama is something between you and the mirror that you use in the morning to get ready for your day. Individual Hillclimber Association members, if you should run into one, are perfectly free to express any opinion that they wish to express. The Association takes no official position.

End of Story.

If any Hillclimber veteran has a question for me (email temporarily redacted) I will try to answer the question.

All others don't bother to ask since I have said all I have to say about the subject.