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Francis McClellan (1911 - 2013)

Obituary
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Francis Appleton (Mac) McClellan, decorated WWII veteran, 101, of Wellfleet, MA, formerly of Andover and Winchester MA, died peacefully at home on June 25, 2013. Mac was born to Percy and Frances McClellan on Dec 3, 1911 on the family farm in Haverhill, MA. After his father was killed by a horse, he moved to Andover, MA with his mother, sister and four brothers. Mac grew up rambling in the great outdoors, hunting and trapping in the surrounding woods and working with his siblings on nearby farms. The thrill of adventure captivated Mac at young age; he and his brothers hitched unauthorized rides to school on the milk sleigh and rode their bicycles from Andover to the White Mountains and back. He attended Phillips Academy, Monson Academy and Brown University. In his late teens he rode the mostly unpaved roads West across the country on an Indian motorcycle, collecting horseshoe nails in his tires along the way. He learned to ski on the formidable slopes of the White Mountains and became a Class A alpine racer, competing on many trails where there were no lifts: the Thunderbolt at Mt. Greylock, the Tecumsah at Waterville Valley, and the trails on Mt. Washington and Wildcat. Mac enjoyed the company of the legendary Joe Dodge and the many colorful characters at Pinkham Notch AMC Camp at the base of Mt. Washington. Mac met his wife to be, Martha Hill, one bluebird June day in 1939 on a hike up and ski down Tuckermans Ravine. They married after WWII in 1944 when Mac returned from the service for good, settling and raising a family of three in Winchester, MA. His military service began during WWII. Because he was over the age limit allowed by the U.S Army Air Force, Mac joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. He trained and became a bomber pilot during 1940-1941. He was on his way to England when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, pitching the U.S. into the war. Mac flew several missions over Germany before transferring to Cairo where he helped chase the Germans out of North Africa. On their way to Egypt he and his crew were forced to bail out at night over Central Africa. At dawn, Mac and his crew met up at the smoldering plane and were greeted by natives wielding long spears. After some tense negotiations, they helped Mac and his crew find their way back to Egypt, a journey on foot and horseback which took three to four weeks. After arriving in Egypt, Mac flew additional missions with the R.A.F. before transferring to the US Army Air Force where he served as a B-24 pilot. Of the 35 missions he completed before returning to the States, his participation in first raid on the Ploesti Oil Fields in Romania stands out. Forty percent of the planes were lost and five Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded, the most for any single air action in history. Mac's plane lost two engines and it took several days to make it back to base. During his dedicated military service Francis McClellan received the Air Medal Award and the Distinguished Flying Cross. Mac became a commercial pilot for Colonial Airlines after the war. Later, he chose to work as a mechanic for Allston, MA-based Clark Wilcox Company, so he could be closer to his growing family. Upon retirement, Mac volunteered and then was hired to work for the Massachusetts Audubon in Topsfield. He contended this was his all-time favorite job--chopping wood, making maple syrup with school groups, maintaining fields and trails, and trying to out-wit the clever beavers from flooding the sanctuary. When he finally retired from Audubon at the age of 89, he and Martha moved to Wellfeet, MA to enjoy the proximity of two of their children. Mac was predeceased by his dear wife Martha Hill McClellan, and all five of his siblings: Elizabeth, John, Hugh, James, and George. Mac is survived by his eldest son, Donald, wife Christine, and their children Jenifer and Travis of Maine; son Robert, wife Margaret, and their children Ross and Dugan of Wellfleet, MA; and many nephews, nieces and friends of all ages. His beloved daughter Lauren McClellan of Wellfleet, MA passed away after a long illness on October 10, 2013. A memorial tribute to Mac will be held high in alpine meadows of the White Mountains in the Spring of 2014. Memorial contributions in Macs name made be made to Mass Audubon. http://www. massaudubon.org/. For online condolences please visit http://www.nickersonfunerals.com/

Published in The Winchester Star from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4, 2013
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Wellfleet, MA   (508) 349-3441
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