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Army Reserve HQ named for Vernon McGarity

More than 300 people who attended the 53rd annual convention in Pittsburgh PA, had the opportunity July 19 to visit the new home of the Army Reserve 99th Regional Support Command as well as Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall.

On July 20, about 200 people were in attendance when the new RSC headquarters was dedicated and named in honor of Tech. Sgt. Vernon McGarity, a member of the division who was awarded the Medal of Honor.

The dedication ceremony was held Saturday afternoon at the reserve center. Major Steven Harmon, public affairs officer, 99th RSC, made the welcome and introduction of guests.

Following the arrival of the official party, the 307th Army Band played the "Star-Spangled Banner," and Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Gerald Stone gave the invocation.

Special remarks were given by Maj. Gen. Karol A. Kennedy, commander of the 99th RSC, U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, and Mark Mustio, chairman of Moon Township Board of Trustees.

Harry McCracken, convention chairman and vice president of the association, read the citation of Vernon McGarity's action during the Battle of the Bulge.

"He was painfully wounded in an artillery barrage that preceded the powerful counteroffensive launched by the Germans near Krinkelt on the morning of Dec. 16, 1944. He made his way to an aid station, received treatment and then refused to be evacuated, choosing to return to his hard-pressed men instead.

"The fury of the enemy's great Western Front offensive swirled about the position held by McGarity's small force, but so tenaciously did these men fight on orders to stand firm at all costs that they could not be dislodged despite murderous enemy fire and the breakdown of their communications. During the day the heroic squad leader rescued one of his friends who had been wounded in a forward position, and throughout the night he exhorted his comrades to repulse the enemy's attempts at infiltration.

"When morning came and the Germans attacked with tanks and infantry, he braved heavy fire to run to an advantageous position where he immobilized the enemy's lead tank with a round from a rocket launcher. Fire from his squad drove the attacking infantrymen back and three supporting tanks withdrew. He rescued, under heavy fire, another wounded American and then directed devastating fire on a light cannon which had been brought up by the hostile troops to clear resistance from the area.

"When ammunition began to run low, McGarity, remembering an old ammunition hole about 100 yards distant in the general direction of the enemy, braved a concentration of hostile fire to replenish his unit's supply.

"By circuitous route, the enemy managed to place a machine gun to the rear and flank of the squad's position, cutting off the only escape route. Unhesitatingly, the gallant soldier took it upon himself to destroy this menace single-handedly. He left cover, and while under steady fire from the enemy killed or wounded all the hostile gunners with deadly accurate rifle fire and prevented all attempts to re-man the gun.

"Only when the squad's last round had been fired was the enemy able to advance and capture the intrepid leader and his men.

"The extraordinary bravery and extreme devotion to duty of McGarity supported a remarkable delaying action which provided the time necessary for assembling reserves and forming a line against which the German striking power was shattered."

Maj. Gen. Kennedy unveiled a plaque with a photo of McGarity and his medal of honor citation that will be placed at the entrance of the facility.

McGarity, now 80 years old and living in Tennessee, was unable to attend the ceremony due to ill health.

Following the benediction, the 307th Army Band played "The Army Song" and the official party had a ribbon cutting ceremony at the front doors of the headquarters building.

Guests then enjoyed a reception and brief tour of the facility.