WWII veteran leaves over $300,000 to Screaming Eagles

Chaplains distribute funds to several soldier/family charities on Thursday

Leaf-Chronicle | Fort Campbell | November 8, 2012
$300,000 behest to 101st Airborne
$300,000 behest to 101st Airborne: Deceased WWII veteran Robert Mawhinney left his estate to the only family he had left — the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division.

Written by
Philip Grey
Representatives of several organizations received large checks from Fort Campbell Installation Chaplain (Col.) Jeff Houston, center, at Liberty Chapel. The beneficiaries of a large behest from the estate of WWII veteran Robert Mawhinney included the Fort Campbell Fisher House, Operation Homefront, the Armed Services YMCA, Army Emergency Relief and the Screaming Eagle Support Program of the 101st Airborne Division Association. / LEAF-CHRONICLE/PHILIP GREY

FORT CAMPBELL, KY. — When World War II “Strike” Brigade veteran Robert Mawhinney died, he left his money to his only remaining family – the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division.

Following the stipulations of Mawhinney’s will, the executors of his estate put the money in the keeping of the Fort Campbell Chaplain. The Chaplain’s office, in its turn, looked about for the best way to use the windfall that had landed in their lap.

Ultimately, Installation Chaplain (Col.) Jeff Houston decided to bestow a portion of Mawhinney’s behest to five different Fort Campbell organizations dedicated to helping soldiers and families – Army Emergency Relief, the Screaming Eagle Support Program of the 101st Airborne Association, the Armed Services YMCA, Operation Homefront and the Fort Campbell Fisher House.

The Screaming Eagle Support Program received $50,000. The other organizations received $25,000 apiece.

The story

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Ed Coy explained that on D-Day, more than 68 years ago, Staff Sgt. Robert Mawhinney was an infantryman with the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment “Strike” who participated in the invasion of Normandy on that fateful early morning of June 6, 1944.

Mawhinney suffered a debilitating wound on that day and was medically evacuated to be eventually medically discharged.

When Mawhinney died, his only child, Rebecca, had already passed. When the will was opened, they found that over $300,000 had been left to the 101st Airborne Division to be managed through the Chaplain’s Board.

“Chaplain Houston brought the team together,” said Coy, “and we decided to disburse the offering that had been given to us by a great soldier in support of the ministry here.”

Said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Wayne St. Louis, now Executive Secretary of the 101st Airborne Division Association, “This money will be given right back to support soldiers and families with financial hardships.”

The family

“A WWII veteran is giving back to help the soldiers,” said retired 1st Sgt. A.J. Murdock, Immediate Past President of the Association, “and I think it’s one of the most fantastic things to ever happen.”

“I went to a speech this morning, (given by) Command Sgt. Maj. (Ronald) Dvorsky and there’s one thing I remember that kind of ties to it,” said St. Louis.

“The (101st Airborne Division) patch isn’t just about wearing the patch; it’s a family.

“The family here is about the community on both sides of the line, but that’s why that (behest) went to the chaplains and now to us, because that was a part of his family.

“There are no heirs left but the soldiers of today. (Mawhinney) wanted to make sure his family was taken care of.”

Philip Grey, 245-0719
Military affairs reporter
Twitter: @PhilipGrey_Leaf