Vassar graduate to discuss experience as Iraq War intelligence solider. Thursday, December 11, 2008

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – “Sgt. John A. McCary, who speaks fluent Arabic and specializes in ‘human intelligence,’ improvises how he does his job and the Army is improvising how it uses soldiers like him,” wrote The Wall Street Journal in September 2004. “[His] experience in Iraq shows why this war is so hard to win.”

McCary, who graduated from Vassar in 1998 with a degree in French and Francophone Studies, will discuss his year in the Iraq War in “A Warrior’s Tale: To Iraq, Back, and Beyond” on Thursday, December 11, at 5:00 p.m., in Sanders Hall Auditorium (Room 212). This talk is free and open to the public. While at Vassar, McCary will also speak in this year’s International Studies senior seminar, titled “The Ethics of War and Peace.”

Beginning in fall of 2003, McCary was stationed in al Anbar province, a territory halfway between Ramadi and Fallujah considered the most hostile to American forces. During his tour of duty, McCary participated in such momentous events as the first siege of Fallujah.

As the lead interrogator and human intelligence collector for Task Force 1-34, McCary conducted a mix of tactical operations, and led unprecedented coordination with local political, military and religious leaders. He developed personal relationships with Iraqis every day—with farmers and businessmen, Republican Guard officers and insurgents, politicians and ordinary citizens.

Since leaving active duty in 2005, McCary’s experiences have been widely published. One of his wartime letters, entitled “To the Fallen,” was published in the anthology Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front in the Words of US Troops and Their Families (2006). His letter and personal testimony are also featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience (2007).

McCary recently completed a master’s degree in International Security from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and last year, covered international trade for The Wall Street Journal. He currently runs his own security consultancy in Washington, DC.

This event is sponsored by the program in International Studies and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty. Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations or information on accessibility should contact Campus Activities Office at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Directions to the Vassar campus are available at

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Wednesday, December 3, 2008