Arkansans Behind the Flag: H.D. McCarty

Harvey Dwight McCarty (according to the Air Force) was born in Texas but has decided that Fayetteville, Arkansas is his home now. When asked how he ended up in Fayetteville, he replied, “I hated Arkansas, and I hated Baptists, and I hated preachers”! But apparently, life would have other plans for him.

According to General McCarty, one of the most important moments in his life was deciding to go with his girlfriend to a local Bible study for high school seniors. As he had already noted, he had no interest in anything related to church or preachers. But through constant encouragement, he finally relented. Despite his reservations, the young Harvey Dwight enjoyed the study, so much so that he allowed the teacher to come to his house and bring him up to date on the study curriculum the group had been using. Throughout their conversation, McCarty made a decision to become a Christian which would not only direct his personal life but also be key in his military one.

When McCarty was growing up, World War Two was raging. It was during this time that the United States Air Force (US Army Air Corps then) made a name for itself on the world stage. Because of their fame in books, movies, and newsreels, the young Harvey Dwight knew that someday he wanted to become an Air Force man! So, when he was old enough, he joined the USAF through the AFROTC program at Southern Methodist University. After four years of college, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, and since he was at the top of his class, he got his choice as to what he wanted to do. Thus, he chose to become certified in bombers. In fact, he was triple rated as a pilot, bombardier, and navigator.

McCarty spent eight years flying for the Air Force. He flew such planes as the B-25 Mitchell and the B-47 Stratojet. In fact, the B-47 had not been in service for very long by the time that McCarty started flying it. It was a six-engine, swept-wing, jet aircraft. Its main purpose was photographic reconnaissance and intelligence, however, it could also be used as a bomber. In fact, when Brigadier General McCarty was flying the B-47, they nearly had him fly a bombing mission over Russia due to escalated aggression by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

In 1963, McCarty was asked to become a chaplain in the Air Force, a position which he willingly undertook. For this role, he was sent to Arkansas being stationed at both Little Rock Air Force Base and Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Fort Smith.

He served his fellow airmen for twenty-five years addressing their spiritual needs. In fact, they even began calling him “Razorback Rabbi”, a nickname of which he is proud.

After thirty-three years of loyal service, H.D. McCarty retired from the Air Force choosing to start a new chapter in his life as a Baptist minister.

Brigadier General McCarty has lived eighty- nine (will be ninety in November) years. At this stage in life, many people wonder what impact their life has made on others. But, H.D. McCarty will never have this problem. Although he will never admit to it, his life of selfless service to his country and his fellow Airmen has touched more lives than can be counted. And, because of his love for people and dedication to his faith, he will continue to make an impact in the Northwest Arkansas community in which he is currently serving. I should know. I spent nearly two hours with him, and in that short time, he made a difference to me!


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