WNYT.com

Local Army captain shares war story -- at Walmart

Posted at: 04/18/2013 12:01 AM
By: Dan Levy

ALBANY - When one combatant has a superiority advantage over another, some people believe the smartest thing to do is nothing -- the theory being sometimes you demonstrate greater strength through restraint.

If that's true, then U.S. Army Capt. Andrew McClure is a prime example of strength in uniform.

After serving 14 years in the Army, including a combat tour in Iraq, it wasn't until  McClure returned home when he received injuries that were hardest to take. They happened inside an Albany Walmart store on April 11.

"He comes up behind me with his middle finger extended and I turned and said, 'Is that for me?'" McClure recalled. "Then he said, 'F**k you, American scum. F**k you.  f**k your nation!' My response was, 'If you don't like it here, you can always go home.'"

Store surveillance video shows McClure beginning to walk away, but then, the alleged assailant, Yiqiang Wu, 47, of Guilderland appeared to advance toward the solider, pulling an object from his pocket and proceeding to pummel  him with punches.

McClure was left beaten and bloodied. Wu was left in police handcuffs, charged with third-degree assault as a hate crime.

At his home last Friday, Wu said he hears voices and suffers frequent headaches, adding when he plugs his ears to block the voices, his middle fingers are extended, giving the appearance of obscene gestures.

Wu says he has no ill-will toward the U.S. military. His wife says he has mental health issues.

"I'm sorry if he has mental health issues, that's sad," McClure says, "It doesn't give anyone the right to violate someone else's personal rights."

Even though McClure likely would have been in the right had he defended himself more aggressively, the second-degree black belt chose not to do that.

"I had the presence of mind to know that we're on camera," he said. "I'm in uniform and I have to conduct myself as a professional and not do anything that would tarnish or embarrass the unit or the uniform."

McClure says he's grateful to the other shoppers and store employees who helped him and who stayed until police arrived to provide statements.

Wu remains free on $5,000 bail, with a court-ordered mental health evaluation still to come before his next court date.