Longtime deputy U.S. marshal "Mac" McArdle was known for his dedicated career as a law enforcement officer, his ability to inspire friends, and appreciation of family. Most of all, he had an amazing knack to be at the center of history while it was occurring—several times.
Willard Cottle McArdle was born on December 14, 1921, in Port Angeles, Washington. Law enforcement was in the family, as his grandfather had been the catalyst that started the Washington State Patrol.
After a two-year stint in the Coast Guard, McArdle joined the Navy in 1940. It was there he faced personal peril when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, setting off America's war in the Pacific. He continued his service until his honorable discharge in November 1944. He then served as a motorcycle officer in the Metropolitan Police Department in the District of Columbia and in Arlington County, Virginia.
McArdle joined the U.S. Marshals twice. The first time, in 1957, he was immediately assigned to the District of Alaska, which was still a territory and divided into four divisions due to its size. Assigned to the one-man office in Bethel, Alaska, "Mac" had to use ingenuity as his post covered a large mass of land. There were only six in his entire division, and his U.S. Marshal was stationed in faraway Fairbanks. He temporarily resigned to tend to family and move east.
He rejoined the U.S. Marshals on November 27, 1961, and served in the District of Columbia. Not even a year later, McArdle was one of the deputy U.S. marshals sent to integrate the University of Mississippi. Alongside 126 other deputies and upwards of 300 deputized Border Patrol, Federal Prison Guards, and Mississippi National Guard members, "Mac" held the line around the registration building, known as the Lyceum. The faced a crowd of thousands and a barrage of bricks, acid, and buckshot. The deputies could only fire their gas guns. McArdle remembered leader Al Butler's striped helmet, which was designed to keep the deputies aligned. He said, "As long as I saw Al's helmet, I knew we would be all right." The deputies stood their ground until the siege was lifted by the Army.
"Mac" transferred to the Western District of Washington in 1963, and by 1972 was posted in the District of Oregon. In both these posts, he traveled extensively, particularly on extraditions. He was also involved in early Special Operations Group activity, such as the Vietnamese expatriate crisis on Guam in 1975. McArdle retired in 1981.
"Mac" McArdle, 91, passed away on June 27, 2013.