Joseph “Joe” McCarthy

Joseph Raymond “Joe” McCarthy (1908 – 1957) was an American politician who served as a U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957. He served in the Marines from 1942 to 1945.

Medic requested the military files of Senator Joe McCarthy from the National Archives. Under the Freedom of Information Act, only two pages were provided.

McCarthy was the most visible public face during the Cold War. He verbally assaulted his opponents, and claimed that large numbers of Communists, Soviet spies and sympathizers had infiltrated the federal government and elsewhere.

The term “McCarthyism” refers to demagogic, reckless, and unsubstantiated accusations, as well as public attacks on the character or patriotism of political opponents. Ultimately, due to the vicious nature of his attacks, McCarthy was censured by the Senate.

In 1942, shortly after the U.S. entered World War II, McCarthy was commissioned into the United States Marine Corps, despite the fact that his judicial office exempted him from compulsory service. He was discharged from the Marines in 1945.

Lt. Joe McCarthy, Solomon Islands, 1943McCarthy served as an intelligence briefing officer for a dive bomber squadron in the Solomon Islands and Bougainville. He volunteered to fly twelve combat missions as a gunner-observer, acquiring (or perhaps giving himself) the nickname of “Tail-Gunner Joe” in the course of one of these missions.

McCarthy later falsely claimed 32 aerial missions in order to qualify for a Distinguished Flying Cross, which he received in 1952. He also publicized a letter of commendation which he claimed had been signed by his commanding officer and countersigned by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, then Chief of Naval Operations. McCARTHY TAILGUNNERHowever, it was revealed that McCarthy had written this letter himself, in his capacity as intelligence officer.  A “war wound” that McCarthy made the subject of varying stories involving airplane crashes or anti-aircraft fire was in fact received aboard ship during a ceremony for sailors crossing the equator for the first time.

Because of McCarthy’s various lies about his military heroism, his “Tail-Gunner Joe” nickname was sarcastically used as a term of mockery by his critics.

After his censure, McCarthy worked in the senate another two and a half years, but his career as a major public figure had been ruined. His Senate colleagues avoided him; his speeches on the Senate floor were delivered to a near-empty chamber or were received with conspicuous displays of inattention. The press that had once recorded his every public statement now ignored him; outside speaking engagements dwindled almost to nothing.

McCarthy died in Bethesda Naval Hospital on May 2, 1957. He was 48. The official cause of death was listed as acute hepatitis. The press hinted he died of alcoholism, which contemporary biographers accept.


Wikipedia/Joseph McCarthy