McClellan’s biggest fear: Letting someone down.
Today we are pleased to welcome retired U.S. Marine-turned-private investigator Mac McClellan to #MotiveMeansOpportunity. Mac retired from the Marines a few years ago after a twenty-four year career. He has graciously agreed to answer a few questions that might be of interest to the readers of MMO and his Mac McClellan Mystery series.
MMO: Welcome to our humble blog, Mac.
Mac: Thanks for having me. Good to be here.
MMO: Tell us a little about your background. When and where you were born, your education, military service, what brought you to the Florida panhandle after your retirement, etc.
Mac: There’s not a whole lot to tell. I was born and raised in Brevard , North Carolina . I played baseball and football, and loved to go camping and hiking in the mountains around there. After graduating high school I joined the Marine Corps on my 18th birthday, August 8, 1990. My training ended just in time for me to participate as a rifleman in Operation Desert Storm. My unit was involved in taking the airfield at Kuwait City in late February of ’91. The Iraqis put up quite a fight and it took us several hours to secure the area. I took a round through and through the left thigh during the battle and earned my first purple heart. Nothing bad, just some bleeding.
After the First Gulf War I did a two-year stint with Division Recon until I blew out a knee during a training op. After rehab I was transferred back to a rifle company. By the time President Bush Two decided to invade Iraq , I was a staff NCO. I served as Platoon Sergeant on my first deployment. Later I was promoted to Gunnery Sergeant and served as company gunny during my next two deployments. My last deployment to Iraq was in 2004. It included the Second Battle of Fallujah in November. Fallujah was a bitch. Enough said.
What brought me to the panhandle? A good buddy of mine used to brag about this area all the time. We made plans for a fishing trip after Fallujah, but he was KIA. When I got home my wife told me she was tired of playing father and mother, and wanted out of the marriage. I knew she was seeing someone, but we agreed to stay together a few more years until our twins, Mike and Megan, finished high school. They left for college shortly after I retired. Jill presented me with the divorce papers. I signed them before a judge, bought a camper and headed for Florida .
MMO: So, your Marine Corps friend and your divorce brought you to the panhandle; what made you stay?
Mac: It’s complicated. The Corps had been my home for twenty-four years. I was newly divorced. My wife was living in “our” dream retirement home with her Navy pilot boyfriend. The kids had flown the nest. I came here to fish, relax, and think about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
One morning I snagged a badly decomposed body while fishing near Five Mile Island . The body was that of a popular local young woman who was supposed to be honeymooning with her husband in the mountains of Georgia or North Carolina . She also happened to be the niece of the local sheriff. We butted heads, and I was warned not to leave Dodge. Then a baggie of marijuana was found stashed aboard my rental boat. Just so happens a bale of the same strain of pot had washed ashore near where I discovered the body. I knew then somebody was setting me up to take the fall. One thing led to another and I was able to solve the murder and bust up a connected drug-smuggling ring. Oh, and Kate Bell had a little something to do with my staying. She works at the local marina. We hit it off right away, and she was a big help in helping me solve the case.
MMO: Interesting. You enjoyed the “thrill of the hunt” so much that you decided to take it up as a vocation and become a licensed private investigator?
Mac: (Laughs.) Not exactly. You can thank Kate and her “Uncle” Frank for that. I’m an old movie buff. One night Kate and I were coming out of the theater when she saw who she claimed was her former boyfriend. Problem was, the guy had been dead for over ten years. I tried to get her to listen to reason, but she kept insisting it was the same person. I went with Kate to see Frank Hightower. Frank’s a very close friend of the Bells, a retired cop who now runs his own private investigative company in Destin, Kate’s hometown. Kate had kept Frank informed about the murder and drug case I’d solved. Frank thought I had the makings of a decent PI. Together they conspired to get me to snoop into Kate’s old circle of friends and find out if there was anything to the boyfriend’s reappearance or not. In exchange for my time, Frank offered to pay all fees while I worked on becoming a bona fide investigator and Kate’s case. Voila!—Mac McClellan, PI.
MMO: What makes Mac McClellan “tick?”
Mac: I’d say a strong sense of duty, dependability, and responsibility.
MMO: Those are certainly admirable traits. What about faults?
Mac: (Laughs again; pauses … thinking.) I’ve put on a few pounds. I need to drop about ten to get back to my fighting weight. And Kate thinks I drink too much. I guess she’s right. Maybe.
MMO: Moving along, are you a religious person?
Mac: No, not really. My parents took me to church and Sunday school when I was a kid. I don’t think it did me much good. I’ve seen too much crap to believe in a loving and benevolent God. How many times have you seen some natural disaster on television, like a tornado. They interview some guy standing outside his demolished house and he’s saying, “The good Lord was really watching out for us today.” And down the street a mother and her two young kids were crushed to death or sucked out of the house and killed. Where was “the good Lord” when that was happening? Life is a crapshoot. Call me agnostic. I’m not saying there isn’t a god, but if he/she/it exists, he/she/it doesn’t give a crap about the human race.
MMO: What does combat-hardened former Marine Mac McClellan fear most?
Mac: Letting someone down.
MMO: Short and succinct. I like that. Favorite food?
Mac: Steak and shrimp. And BLTs.
Mac: Yes. (Laughs.) Water, Scotch, and beer.
MMO: Tell me the first word that comes to mind when I say: women.
MMO: Very good. What are you especially proud of in your life?
Mac: My kids. They’re both good people. Kate Bell. I’m a better man for knowing her. And I like to think I’ve done my best, or given my all when it comes to interacting with people in general. The Marine Corps had a lot to do with molding me into who I am today.
MMO: A commendable answer. One last question: is there a code or creed that you live by?
Mac: Absolutely—Semper Fidelis. Always faithful. To me, that says it all.
MMO: Thanks for being with us today, Mac. It’s been a pleasure having you.
Mac: Thank you. It’s a pleasure being had.