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Born Dec. 8, 1921, in Philadelphia to Fred and Catherine McCarthy, Joe graduated from Lower Merion High School in 1940, entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1942 and was commissioned an Infantry officer in June 1945. He was assigned to the 11th Airborne Division in Sapporo, Japan, where he met Nancy Pattison, a Red Cross social worker from Chicago. They married in Sapporo on Oct. 4, 1947.
In 30 years on active duty, Joe compiled a distinguished record as a soldier, combat arms leader and advisor. One of the first U.S. military advisors in Vietnam, he helped reform the Vietnamese military officer training program in 1955, culminating in establishment of the Vietnamese National Military Academy modeled after West Point. In 1969, he returned to Vietnam as chief of staff of the 4th Infantry Division.
Other overseas assignments included four tours in Germany, as well as Paris, France, and Naples, Italy. In Mons, Belgium, he established a uniquely integrated multi-national school system for NATO dependents at SHAPE Headquarters in 1967, which remains largely intact today as he designed it. He also worked for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Army Chief of Staff in the Pentagon.
Brig. Gen. McCarthys numerous decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Combat Infantry Badge, and Bronze Star Medal with three Oak Leak Clusters. In 1967, his book, Illusion of Power - American Policy Toward Vietnam 1954-1966 was published.
Committed to education throughout his life, Joe earned masters and doctorate degrees in government and politics from the University of Maryland. From 1979-1992 Joe worked for Ketron, Inc., where he developed the TACSIT, an innovative training program used by senior military leaders and planners in the U.S., Europe, Panama and Korea.
From 1993-2005, McCarthy served three Pennsylvania governors as co-chair of the states Base Development Committee. Joe was founding president of the Susquehanna Conference, an eight-county citizens organization, and held other civic leadership posts.
Joe McCarthys ultimate achievement was establishing the Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle. A founding president of the Military Heritage Foundation, Joe worked tirelessly and passionately from 1997 until his death to build a facility honoring the American Soldier and educate citizens on the Armys heritage and its central role in protecting the American way of life.
Brig. Gen. McCarthy is survived by Nancy, his devoted wife of 62 years, of Ft. Belvoir, Va.; daughters Nancy Jean Piotter of Fairfax Station, Va., and Christina Delaney of El Paso, Texas; son Joseph W. McCarthy of Alexandria, Va.; their spouses; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Joe was a compassionate, caring, devoted husband and father, and treasured most of all his role as Grandfather.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Saturday at 2 p.m. at Mary, Queen of Peace, Carlisle Barracks Chapel, with Chaplain (Col.) Gregory J. D Emma as celebrant, followed by a reception at the Army Heritage Center.
On Tuesday, April 20, Brig. Gen. McCarthy was interred at the West Point Cemetery, preceded by Mass at 10 a.m. at the Catholic Chapel, West Point, N.Y.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Army Heritage Center Foundation in support of the Army Heritage and Education Center, 950 Soldiers Drive, Carlisle PA 17013.
If you met Joseph while he served in the military you may know him as General McCarthy while those that met him while he was teaching refer to him as Dr. McCarthy and still others that met him in the community involved in civic activities call him Mr. McCarthy. No matter what name he goes by there is no denying that he is a tough act to follow. His education included degrees from the US Military Academy, West Point, NY (1945), the US Army Command and General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas (1958), US Naval War College, Newport, R.I. (1965) and the University of Maryland where he earned his MA in Government and Politics (1960) & PHD in Political Science (1965).
He served in the military for 30 years. In 1945, he was commissioned in the infantry where he served in infantry, airborne and armored units. He served 3 tours in the Far East and 5 in Europe.
From 1958-60 he worked at the Pentagon in the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and from 1960-63 in the office of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel. In 1965 he went to Europe where he had 2 NATO assignments. In 1967 he wrote the Illusion of Power: American Policy Toward Vietnam 1954-1966 and in 1975 he retired from the military. After his retirement he pursued many different activities.
He taught Political Science at the University of Maryland and taught at many military posts. Joe also served as President of 2 school Boards. Joe devoted several years to the protection of the environment. He developed an alternative (non-federal) program for funding and constructing wastewater treatment facilities.
In 1999, he became President of The United States Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pa. A non-profit foundation he founded. The center is a military history, education and cultural campus. General McCarthy has received the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.