Willie McTear retired after life-long careers in the Clark County Juvenile Court System — 12 years — and Behavior Health Care System — 18 years.
Willie graduated in 1961 from Tensas Rosenwald High School in Saint Joseph, Louisiana. He attended Southern University every-other-semester, from 1962 to 1966, until he was drafted into the U.S. Army, on May 16, 1966. He served exactly two years until his honorable discharge on May 16, 1968.
He graduated from basic and Advanced Individual Training for the infantry at Fort Riley, Kansas from May through December 1966. Then he was sent to Vietnam in January 1967, assigned to the 9th Infantry Division, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry, Charlie Company, 2nd platoon.
After many battles and heavy casualties — only half the original company returned to U.S. soil in January 1967 — the soldiers felt broken and rejected with invisible wounds untreated.
Some how, Willie managed to resume college. He attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and community college from 1969 to 1972, when he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He worked for Clark County Juvenile Court Services from 1972 to 1985 but as he puts it, “those unresolved issues and those invisible wounds began to manifest at a rapid rate.”
He accepted a job offer from a friend and relocated to Costa Mesa, in Orange County, California “to recreate my broken life. The V.A. hospital in Long Beach was a Godsend.”
In 1992, Willie began a new career at Starting Point Hospital in Costa Mesa. He enrolled at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California and went on to graduate at the top of his class in 1998 with Chemical Dependency and Behavioral Health degree.
He completed an internship at Starting Point Hospital, then applied for accreditation after passing written and oral exams for the California Association for Alcohol and Drug Educators. He also became a registered addiction specialist.
He was promoted in 1999 to program director of the Chemical Dependency Unit at Tustin Hospital and Medical Center, in Tustin, California. During his tenure the medical facility reached its highest census level.
In 2001, the hospital’s mission changed to expand its Pediatric Sub-acute Program. Willie retired and relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada where he continued to work on a volunteer basis four days a week and Sundays with veterans in the US Vets Program.
Upon returning to Las Vegas, he married Dianne Taylor (McTear) and was afforded the opportunity to spend more time with children — Benoit and Deva McTear. His return to Southern Nevada also opened the door to reunite and catch up with veterans from Charlie Company.
“After 30 years we were together again,” he said, adding, “The yearly reunions and time spent together were therapeutic beyond measure. We visited the the Vietnam Veterans Wall together where I had the most intense, spiritual experience ever. Willie also had the honor of placing the wreathe at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery; and Charlie Company was honored in a book, “The Boys of ’67,” by Andrew Wiest, the inspiration for a National Geographic documentary, titled, “Brothers in War,” narrated by Charlie Sheen.
Veterans from Charlie Company attended a book signing at the 2012 annual reunion in New Orleans. And in 2014, they attended the premiere of “Brothers in War” at the National Geographic Theater in Washington, D.C.
Willie was also recognized for his service in a feature story, “My War,” in Vietnam Magazine.
On March 13, 2014, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, honored Willie by recognizing his service in the Congressional Record for the 113th Congress.
“By God’s grace, life was recreated and I’m now living beyond my wildest dream,” he said.