Richard Rougier McCullough
Born September 26, 1927 – KIA July 18, 1952
Wherever he may be, Dick McCullough is still smiling and spreading his warm personality to everyone around him. For even in death, it would be hard to visualize the tall, soft spoken young man with anything but quiet cheer on his face. For Mac's life was a happy one.
Born on September 26, 1927 in the Army Hospital at Fort Sam Houston, Mac became a child born into the 2nd Infantry Division, and in whose ranks he died in battle, a brief 25 years later, half a world away.
His English born mother, Blanche, and Texan father, Earl, raised their son in the environment that was to give Mac a look at the world and its people that formed his tolerant and understanding personality. His early life was the varied life of the Army while his father served at Fort Sam and then at Fort Slocum, New York, where he reached his tenth year. It was an ideal place for children. Mac and his brother Tom sung in the choir at Trinity Episcopal Church. Mac began to develop a love of music. His trombone playing provided lasting pleasure for him. During this period the family made a trip to Canada. Mac never forgot that vacation.
His father then went to the Philadelphia Quartermaster School, where Mac's school grades began to show his bright mind. Walter Reed was next, where Mac was confirmed in the church. He also took part in Boy Scouts, and the school band. He and his father spent great times together roaming through Rock Creek Park and using the many facilities of the Post. Then came orders for the Canal Zone. In Panama Mac learned Spanish quickly and showed lively interest in the Air Corps. He took his first plane ride over the Canal. But the time was drawing near for high school and his parents wanted him to have all of his high school in one school. So through his father's efforts, Mac was accepted at Valley Forge Military Academy under a band scholarship.
He did well at Valley Forge, was a gold star student for three years, played in the band, and was art editor for the school paper. At Valley Forge another talent blossomed forth. Mac had a wonderful drawing ability. His great ability to express himself went on to his last days in Korea. His bold and witty cartoon style produced a full 56-page cartoon book of Valley Forge that was popular for years later. He grew to manhood there and became a friendly sincere student, shy but with legions of friends. At this time the possibility of West Point had been threading its way through his life.
One day at the World's Fair, when he and his brother found themselves on the sound demonstration stage in the Telephone Building, his parents heard his voice over the sound system. The MC had asked Mac what he wanted to do when he grew up. Without hesitation he had answered, “I want to go to West Point and be an Army officer.” From then on his ambition was clear, although it wasn't until the summer of 1947 that it was realized. The break came though, and New Cadet McCullough entered the Military Academy. As all plebes, Mac went through the first year, not being noticed much, not bothering anybody, but by the end of yearling year, the Corps began noticing and chuckling over the cartoons appearing in each issue of The Pointer. His understanding of life, the character of West Point, the humor in hard work, and the foibles of all, spilled unendingly off his pen to cheer everyone from the Superintendent down. But except for his classmates, and those who heard his fine trombone playing, the hilarious Mac of the printed page, and the Cadet in uniform, seemed two different individuals. For he was still reserved and shy. But his friends multiplied. For all of his stay at the Academy, Mac showed a rare fine humility and evenness that gave him a strong soundness of character. The years at West Point passed. He went in the Infantry. By the time he had graduated Mac had become a legend. He had brought a smile to every face that saw the sketches of his hand. On his graduation leave he took a trip to England before reporting to Fort Benning where he went through the Infantry Course, knowing he was going to the Far East Command. In April 1952, with many others of his class, he left Camp Stoneman for the long trip to Korea. He arrived in the 2nd Division and narrowly missed getting in the 9th Infantry, the regiment to which he was born. He was assigned to E Company of the 23rd Infantry.
After a time in reserve, while the division trained and while he sent back cheerful illustrated letters to his family, Mac finally went into combat with his rifle platoon, in the bloody shadow of Old Baldy on the western front. Mac had started on a volunteer ambush patrol the night of 17 July. The company on Baldy had been attacked, and Mac returned to move forward to help relieve the beleaguered company. But the company on Baldy was almost destroyed.
The clearest personal account of what happened next, came from his wounded Assistant Platoon Sergeant, James A. Davis: “Lieutenant McCullough was all over the battle area, placing men, helping to calm the scared and treating the wounded. As day broke, the enemy began shelling us heavily. Lieutenant McCullough had been previously wounded by a hand grenade which had hit him in the right arm and ear. As our reinforcements had not arrived, we tried to get him to let us pull off, he would not give the order to retreat. An incoming mortar round wounded two men and as Lieutenant McCullough and I went to their aid he was hit again in the leg by fragments from another round. He was still able to walk and refused aid.
“A while later as part of the 2nd Platoon came up on our right, Lieutenant McCullough called for six volunteers and personally led the two elements over the crest of the hill into the Chinese positions. We soon lost contact with them, we had only six men left. We last saw him attacking an enemy machine gun.”
Lieutenant Sam Lutterloh, reported, “Mac gave his helmet to one man and his rifle to another.” And somewhere after that time, still fighting, still attacking with his little force, Richard Rougier McCullough's courageous heart stopped among the Korean hills.
For his inspirational leadership and unfaltering courage and devotion to duty, Lieutenant McCullough was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism and valor, involving extraordinary risk of life in connection with military operations against an enemy.
More than a man left us on that day. From those who knew him, came many tears. From those who fought with him, poured words of praise. Those who saw only the inimitable work of his pen have lost a smile. For Mac is gone, and a little of each of us has gone with him.
Jose Andres Chacon
Department of the Army: General Orders No. 37 (April 29, 1953)
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Richard Roughier McCullough (O-0064121), Second Lieutenant (Infantry), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving with Company E, 2d Battalion, 23d Infantry Regiment, 2d Infantry Division.
Second Lieutenant (Infantry) McCullough distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces at Chorwon, Korea, on 18 July 1952.
During a bitterly contested engagement in which one of the soldiers lost his helmet and carbine, Lieutenant McCullough replaced them with his own and fearlessly continued to lead the attack on the military crest of a strategic key terrain feature. As the troops approached the summit of the objective, they faltered under a shower of enemy grenades, many of which Lieutenant McCullough tossed back into the emplacement.
Although wounded during this action, he successfully effected a limited withdrawal and set up defensive positions. Constantly vulnerable to heavy mortar and artillery fire, he moved about the perimeter encouraging the men, distributing ammunition, and coordinating the holding action. Although sustaining additional wounds, he organized and spearheaded a counterattack to the crest of the hill and gallantly continued to direct the assault until he lost his life.
Richard R. McCullough
Arlington, Virginia – Born 1927
Second Lieutenant, US Army
Killed in Action July 18, 1952 in Korea
Second Lieutenant Mc Cullough was a member of the 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. He was Killed in Action while fighting the enemy in North Korea on July 18, 1952.
He was the son of Colonel Earl T. McCullough and is buried with his parents in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.
MCCULLOUGH, RICHARD ROUGIER
- 2ND LT USA 23 INF REGT 2 INF
- DATE OF BIRTH: 09/26/1927
- DATE OF DEATH: 07/18/1952
- BURIED AT: SECTION 2 SITE E-36
- ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard