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First Name: Charles

Last Name: MacGillivary

Birthplace: Charlottetown, PE, CAN

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Andrew

Date of Birth: 17 January 1917

Date of Death: 24 June 2000

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served: 1942-1945
Charles Andrew MacGillivary

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Charles Andrew MacGillivary

Sergeant, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II


Sergeant Charles Andrew MacGillivary (17 January 1917 - 24 June 2000) wasa U.S. Army soldier who was a recipient of the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War II.

Charles Andrew MacGillivary was born on 17 January 1917 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, to Cardigan Scot Roland MacGillivary and Minnie Quinn. He attended Queens Square School in Charlottetown and joined the Merchant Marines at age 16. Shortly thereafter, MacGillivary immigrated to the U.S. to live with his older brother in Boston, MA. While living with his brother, he learned about the Army and considered joining it.

After hearing about the attack on Pearl Harbor, he decided the right thing to do was to volunteer for the U.S. Army. In January 1942, he joined the Army as a Private and 50 years later he told the United States Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, that when he was in boot camp:

"an officer asked me and two other immigrants ... whether we wanted to become U.S. citizens. [They took us] to a federal courthouse and [swore us] in before a judge. I thought that if I was going to fight for this country, I should be a U.S. citizen."

On 1 January 1945, he was a Sergeant attached to Company I, 71st Infantry, 44th Infantry Division. Near Woelfling, France, that day he destroyed four hostile machine guns and immeasurably helped his company to continue on its mission with minimum casualties. For his actions he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company I, 71st Infantry, 44th Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Woelfling, France, 1 January 1945.

Citation: He led a squad when his unit moved forward in darkness to meet the threat of a breakthrough by elements of the 17th German Panzer Grenadier Division. Assigned to protect the left flank, he discovered hostile troops digging in. As he reported this information, several German machineguns opened fire, stopping the American advance. Knowing the position of the enemy, Sgt. MacGillivary volunteered to knock out 1 of the guns while another company closed in from the right to assault the remaining strong points. He circled from the left through woods and snow, carefully worked his way to the emplacement and shot the 2 camouflaged gunners at a range of 3 feet as other enemy forces withdrew. Early in the afternoon of the same day, Sgt. MacGillivary was dispatched on reconnaissance and found that Company I was being opposed by about 6 machineguns reinforcing a company of fanatically fighting Germans. His unit began an attack but was pinned down by furious automatic and small arms fire. With a clear idea of where the enemy guns were placed, he voluntarily embarked on a lone combat patrol. Skillfully taking advantage of all available cover, he stalked the enemy, reached a hostile machinegun and blasted its crew with a grenade. He picked up a submachine gun from the battlefield and pressed on to within 10 yards of another machinegun, where the enemy crew discovered him and feverishly tried to swing their weapon into line to cut him down. He charged ahead, jumped into the midst of the Germans and killed them with several bursts. Without hesitation, he moved on to still another machinegun, creeping, crawling, and rushing from tree to tree, until close enough to toss a grenade into the emplacement and close with its defenders. He dispatched this crew also, but was himself seriously wounded. Through his indomitable fighting spirit, great initiative, and utter disregard for personal safety in the face of powerful enemy resistance, Sgt. MacGillivary destroyed four hostile machineguns and immeasurably helped his company to continue on its mission with minimum casualties.

President Harry S. Truman presented Sergeant Charles Andrew MacGillivary with his Medal of Honor on 25 August 1945.

Post-War Life

After the war, MacGillivary returned home to Boston where he worked for a short time as a special agent for Boston's Treasury Department. He joined the U.S. Customs Service in 1950 starting as a warehouse officer, but soon became an agent for the Customs Office of Investigations, conducting special investigations. His daughter, Charlene Corea, remembered him as being particularly busy in the winter inspecting Christmas trees that entered the U.S. from Canada. He retired from the Customs Service in 1975.

MacGillivary was a resident of Braintree, MA, from 1957 until his death in 2000.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Soldier's Medal
French Croix de Guerre


He is honored with a bronze plaque on the lectern at the George Robert White Fund Memorial - Veterans Memorial Park in the Back Bay Fens in Boston, MA.

Sergeant Charles A. MacGillivary was enrolled as a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts the third oldest chartered military organization in the world on 6 April 1992. He was the seventh member to receive the Medal of Honor.

Death and Burial

Sergeant Charles Andrew MacGillivary died on 24 June 2000, at age 83, while in the VA Hospital in Brockton, MA. Rev. Philip Salois, who had himself received a Silver Star in the Vietnam War, performed the funeral. Then-Governor of Massachusetts Paul Cellucci was in attendance at MacGillivary's funeral. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, beside his wife, Esther, in Section 48, Grave 568, Map Grid T/24.

Honoree ID: 1509   Created by: MHOH




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