Famed Cartoon NCO Picked for Ordnance Hall of Fame

Famed Cartoon NCO Picked for Ordnance Hall of Fame

Master Sgt. Half-Mast
Photo by: Courtesy

After decades of providing preventive maintenance and supply knowledge to soldiers in PS Magazine, the fictional Master Sgt. Half-Mast McCanick will be inducted into the Ordnance Corps’ Hall of Fame. 

“I was deeply honored, as I think any inductee probably is,” he said in an Army news release. “It’s always nice to be recognized for what you do although that’s not the reason most of us do it. We do it because we love bettering soldiers’ lives and making the Army all the more ready.”

McCanick joins 12 others in the Hall of Fame’s 2024 class. The induction ceremony is scheduled for May.

McCanick joined the Army on July 1, 1942, at Holabird Ordnance Depot in Baltimore, Maryland, and grew into a “national icon,” according to his nomination packet for the Hall of Fame’s historical category.

He advocates for “combat preparedness through preventive maintenance checks and services, proper supply procedures, safety and adherence to technical manuals,” his nomination reads. 

In a break from tradition, McCanick’s nametape displays his first name, “Half-Mast,” as opposed to his last name. “I started out as … an advice columnist in Army Motors Magazine to whom soldiers wrote with their maintenance and supply questions,” McCanick said. “Typically, advice columnists are referred to by their first name, such as ‘Dear Ann’ or ‘Dear Abby.’ In my case, it was ‘Dear Half-Mast.’ So, my first name became better known, and the powers-that-be saw fit to put that on my name plate.”

The beloved cartoon, whose rank “from the very beginning was master sergeant,” was created by Will Eisner, a World War II veteran and well-known cartoonist and the creator of PS Magazine, according to the Army news release. 

Though Eisner tried several times to be sent to the front, his superiors decided against sending him into combat due to his editing and art skills. Instead, Eisner made his mark through McCanick, who first appeared in 1942 in Army Motors Magazine

Between June 1951 and November 2019, McCanick appeared in 804 cartoon-illustrated issues of PS: The Preventative Maintenance Monthly, which is now fully online and is scheduled to cease operations in September. 

Over the years, McCanick became “the most recognizable ‘face’ of Army materiel readiness” by answering soldiers’ questions about caring for their vehicles and equipment, according to the news release. 

Whether he was giving advice on vehicles, equipment or workplace safety, McCanick has always put soldiers first. He also strove to provide soldiers with the information they need to keep their vehicles and equipment combat ready at all times, the Army said in the news release.

“It’s difficult to quantify the direct monetary impact of Master Sgt. Half-Mast and PS Magazine have had, but it’s safe to estimate that it’s in the millions of dollars per year,” the Army said.