I was reading an article written by Harold Julian in 1996.
IT WAS ABOUT A LOCAL MAN DURING World War II. Mount Olive area to be exact.
He was in the Los Negros islands in the Pacific. North east of New Guinea, between Australia and the
There was an airstrip coveted by the Americans.
Rabaul was also nearby. There was naval artillery, air bombardment, and rifle action with grenades.
A Knoxville man, First Cavalry, and his squad of 8 men were defending a bunker being attacked by 200
Japanese. It appears in the article that Troy McGill was one of the eight. Six of his men were out of
action. McGill ordered the last man in his squad to a foxhole in the rear.
Our 29 year old hero, held the position by himself. Using his rifle until he ran out of bullets, then the butt
of his rifle, and finally in hand to hand combat until he was killed.
When the dust settled, 105 Japanese soldiers laid dead around him. No one knows how many Mr. McGill
killed himself. The Army declared McGill’s heroism a decisive factor in turning away the Japanese
attack. This story was brought to me by Ray hodges, many of you met him for the first time last week,
when I told you the story of the Sultana disaster at the end of the Civil War. Ray is a WWII navy veteran
who showed up in Los Negros a few months after the battle that resulted in Mr. McGill’s death. He
expressed a great respect for the men who came to this area before he arrived.
The soldiers and sailors later moved on the Leyte.
In the article of 3-3- 1996, Mr. Hodges states that there is a great rivalry between branches of the
military, but not in combat. Ray Hodges does not want us to forget about local soldiers like Troy McGill.
How can we forget, what no one tells us or teaches us?
A local Knoxville man fought to the death against enemy soldiers intent on killing him as quickly as
possible. He resisted until the last moment. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, and has a sign on the
Interstate designating part of I-40 as the Troy McGill Memorial Highway.
I have probably read the sign, but did not know the story until Ray Hodges passed it along to me and
now you know about that local hero. Not Davy Crocket or Sgt. York, but Troy McGill.
But let us not forget the Hodges boys either.
Five of them fought in WWII.
Ray in the Navy, and his four brothers, John in the 7 th Army in France, Paul in the 3 rd Army, William in the
3 rd Army and James in the 5 th Army in Italy. All together earning double digit campaign stars, 17
campaigns, 3 purple hearts and 2 bronze stars. Add that to a grandfather surviving the Civil War and the
Sultana explosion, and we have a very heroic patriotic Knoxville family.
It’s important that we as a community remember and teach our children about the people from this
region who have served our country, and who deserve to be recognized. I never knew about Troy
McGill. Now you do, too!