Gary, Billy died in 2009 and at that time Larry Majeski, who may have known him, expressed his sadness at Billy’s death. But Billy’s wonderful obit was was not available until later. Billy clearly wrote it himself, and it’s informative, colorful, and very funny. Alumni members will probably be surprised at the different dog-related experiences he had in his military career. This is also the first obit I’ve seen that actually mentions that the decedent was a member of both the Alumni and the VDHA. Alumni members will like this vivid picture of one man’s military career and how it involved all manner of dogs.
3/7/37 – 2/9/09
Following a long and hard battle with cancer, Billy R. “Squirrel” McKinley, Sr., died peacefully at their home on Monday, February 9, 2009.
Visitation was held 5-8 pm Wednesday, February 11, 2009, and will be held today from 9-11 am. Services will be held at Tutor Funeral Home in Magee. Burial will follow at Calvary Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Mize.
Mr. McKinley was born in 1937 in Mize, MS. He quit school and joined the United States Army in 1957. His military career took him to Southeast Asia, Okinawa, France, England, Germany, TDY all over the United States. Among various honors he received in the Army- he was selected as the smallest soldier in the Army. He served as the first Army dog trainer in the Polish Labor Service. He also trained the California National Guard Sentry Dog Unit. He was a combat soldier and POW for less than twenty one days, shot down from a helicopter as well as being hit by shrapnel on the morning he received word he was a new father. He took the first dog team of 189 dogs and men to Vietnam and the peak of the war was a tunnel rat before returning home.
As a civilian he was a heavy equipment operator for local 624 in Jackson and major pipeline companies. Law enforcement career involved Jackson Police Department, State of MS, Deputy Sheriff for Hinds County and Smith County. He drove an 18 wheeler with his son from 1983 to 2000.
In 2005 he was given the honor of United States Marshall. He was a member of the VFW post #9122 of Magee, MS, Pearl Lodge #23 Masonic Order, Wahabie Shrine and Motor Court, Vietnam Dog Handlers Association, and Vietnam Sentry Dog Alumni.
As a pastime he enjoyed selling produce along the side of the road or in Taylorsville, meeting and greeting people he liked to talk to all.
Mr. McKinley is preceded in death by a premature grandson.
He is survived by his wife, Linda of 45 years; son, Bill, Jr.; daughter, Susan Huffstetler and husband, Charles; granddaughters, Jessica, Raven, and Lillianah; and sister, Delores Smith
Family wishes to thank Dr. Khanzur and his Chemo Clinic staff at Veterans Medical Hospital in Jackson and Hospice in His Hands of Magee, especially nurse Kelly West for her kindness and loving care.
Published in the Clarion Ledger on 2/12/2009