WOLFEBORO — Walter ’Mac’ McGinley was 16-years-old when the Japanese launched a surprise military attack at the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in December, 1941, and drew the country into World War II.
Soon after the attack, McGinley, who was working with the Civilian Conservation Corps in British Guiana in South America at the time, joined the U.S. Marines and was stationed for most of his military service in the Pacific Theatre, including Okinawa and Guadalcanal.
“The war broke out and my buddies and I decided to join,” said McGinley, who would serve for the next three years as a private first class.
The veteran celebrated a milestone birthday last week when he turned 90. His friend, Frank Bader, and wife hosted a small birthday lunch for McGinley on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Katie’s Kitchen in Wolfeboro; a larger event – a surprise party — with the couple’s children, Cathy and Michael, and three grandchildren, was held the prior weekend at the Bayside Grill and Tavern in Wolfeboro.
“I wanted to do something to honor his service. If these guys hadn’t done what they did, we’d be speaking German or Japanese. We’re free in America because of them,” said Bader.
McGinley is originally from Alfred, Maine, but he has lived in Brookfield for the past 36 years, with his wife, Virginia McGinley, to whom he has been married for 50 years.
Mrs. McGinley has served as town clerk in Brookfield for 26 years.
McGinley does not talk much about his war time experiences, but did say he was “very proud to be a Marine,” and that he and the friends he had enlisted with all got home safely. He continues to volunteer locally at the Wright Museum.
Well-wishers at the Katie’s Kitchen party included neighbor Amanda Pierce, Ron Goodgame, David Baker, and Wolfeboro Town Clerk Pat Waterman, and Katie’s Kitchen staffers.