Henry James McNair was born in Dumfries, Scotland on September 9th, 2489. His parents both worked making arms for the UNSC in a local factory. Although poor, he lived a reasonably happy childhood. In school, he was noted for having the potential to excel, but often deliberately dumbed himself down in class so he would not be noticed or ridiculed by his friends. McNair ended up doing well in most of his subjects, much to the surprise of his teachers, and left with top grades. After leaving school, rather than be sucked into one of the various gangs that resided in and around his hometown, he enlisted in the Marine Corps at the age of eighteen, along with two friends.
After joining up and getting through training in 2507, McNair was assigned to a large task force dispatched to several colony worlds to combat the growing tide of Insurrection. He was quickly promoted to Corporal, and then to Sergeant in 2513, having experienced several bloody battles, during which he had seen his old friends killed by rebels. These experiences gave him a great hatred for the Insurrection in general, seeing any secessionist groups as traitors to be exterminated. As a marine, he participated in dozens of battles against Insurrectionist groups that were becoming more prevalent in the Outer Colonies.
Later that year, McNair signed on as an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, meeting all of the necessary mental and physical requirements to join. It was during his own training that he would come under the command of Richard Mack Senior, a legendary war hero whom he would gain the utmost respect for. After a few months, McNair passed through his training and was supposed to be assigned to an ODST squad, had Office of Naval Intelligence not intervened first. The Sergeant was taken to SWORD Base on Reach, where he met with Lieutenant Commander Frederick King. The ONI agent informed McNair that he had been specially chosen for an undercover mission to the Outer Colonies: Operation: MASQUERADE. He, along with several others, were to track down the source of a new designer drug known as 'Rocket', which had been linked to Insurrectionist Rumbledrugs. While this was usually a matter for ONI agents to take care of, the organisation had lost a number of agents in their search already and had recruited this new team in an attempt to infiltrate and destroy the distributors from the inside.
While he privately disliked ONI's way of doing things and would have preferred an insertion alongside a group of ODST's, McNair followed his orders and was assigned to the Oryx, a retrofitted Parabola-class freighter which would serve as his new home and base as they travelled through the Outer Colonies. He was surprised to find that not all of his crew were part of the UNSC; a young mercenary named Abd-al-Qadir ibn Asad had been forced onto the mission as part of a plea bargain, and Vivian Harris, a former drug runner and Rocket addict fresh out of rehabilitation. Though loyal to their mission, McNair disliked and distrusted the pair of them, believing them to be selfish and opportunistic after reading up on their history. The team itself was lead by Lieutenant Commander Samantha Jones of the UNSC Navy, with a pilot, a veteran Marine and an AI making up the rest of the crew.
Over the course of several weeks, their team systematically dismantled several Rocket manufacturing plants, coming into conflict with Asad's old PMC, Colonial Security Services. Though very wary of the young mercenary at first, McNair would end up building up quite a rapport with Asad after they saved each other's lives several times and even considered recommending him as an ODST volunteer once the mission was over. McNair's loyalty was also greatly tested over the course of the operation, as it soon came to light that individuals within the Office of Naval Intelligence intended to allow an Insurrectionist group aligned with CSS to use a stolen cache of nuclear weapons on the civilian population of Madrigal, sacrificing millions if it meant turning public opinion against the rebels. He would eventually agree to keep the location of the nukes a secret alongside the rest of the team, and participated in a final assault against CSS that would lead to the death of its leading members.
Though MASQUERADE was considered a success, McNair felt little pride in completing his mission. Still distrustful of ONI's machinations, he refused Frederick King's offer to join one of his own acquisition teams and was barely allowed any time to say his farewells to the surviving members of the Oryx's crew. With the death of Harris, hospitalisation of Asad and disappearance of Markus Jensen, the ship's pilot, McNair felt somewhat responsible for not being able to keep their group safe. Harold Redford, an older Marine who had become something of a mentor for McNair during the mission, reassured the young ODST that he was not to blame for how things turned out, and that all he could do was move on and try to ensure that the next mission had a better outcome.
Shortly after the conclusion of Operation: MASQUERADE, McNair was transferred back into an ODST unit in order to take part in Operation: TREBUCHET, a huge operation against the Insurrection that would span over a decade. McNair's team would go on to eliminate a number of high value targets and dismantled several terrorist cells throughout the Outer Colonies over the next few years, helping the UNSC put down rebellion while becoming both respected and reviled by the millions of civilians caught up in intense fighting across a number of worlds. In April 2525, McNair was part of an ODST company stationed on the UNSC Atlas. It was during that time that several men in Antonio Silva's platoon encountered a young John-117, ensuing in a fight that left two dead and another two severely wounded. It was this incident that left the ODST with a lifelong dislike for Spartans. After the operation ended later that year with the capture of Robert Watts, McNair was promoted to Second Lieutenant and was stationed on Reach for training exercises, becoming an instructor for a new batch of ODST recruits.
Once he had finished training up his third group of recruits in 2526 McNair was assigned to the UNSC Heart of Midlothian and put in charge of a large platoon. While he was the highest-ranked ODST on the ship McNair was placed under the command of one ColonelLasky, who headed the ship's Marine contingent. They were dispatched to the colony world of Andesia and arrived in early November with orders to eliminate a large group of Insurrectionists there before allowing the Marines to land and clear out the rest of the colony. McNair's platoon were dropped into a rural area of the colony world at night and were able to clear out a rebel encampment within an hour, taking no casualties and liberating a large stockpile of stolen weapons. With this initial success McNair had his platoon split into several squads in order to sweep through the forested area and locate more camps. Over the next three days, the ODST's were largely successful in their endeavour, though McNair's squad lost two members; one to a hidden landmine and another to a sniper.
However, one squad had encountered heavier resistance and lost one man to a grenade during a lengthy firefight. The troopers were on Andesia for another week before all contact was lost with the same squad, prompting McNair to direct his entire force towards their location. They came across a heavily guarded and fortified base; the rebels there had wiped out the entire squad and burned their bodies to destroy the remains. In retaliation the rest of the platoon signalled the Heart of Midlothian for reinforcements and launched an all-out attack on the base, massacring the insurrectionists there despite being outnumbered three-to-one. Though the operation was deemed a success McNair felt a great amount of guilt for losing an entire squad of young troopers, which included the son of his commanding officer, to the enemy. He was awarded the Bronze Star shortly after the operation for his actions on Andesia.
The Human-Covenant War
While war was officially declared against the Covenant in 2525, McNair's ODSTs did not see action against this new foe until 2529 when they were dropped onto the former colony world Harvest as part of a massive UNSC offensive there. He found fighting the Covenant to be much easier than killing his fellow man, and garnered an unprecedented kill record in his unit during his time on the planet. Shortly after, he was transferred back to Reach for a the training of a new group, whereupon he met the young Richard Mack Junior, the son of his former trainer, who had been sent for ODST training by Major John Ackton. Also in this group were Carlos Driscol, Edward Buck and many others who would go on to perform great deeds throughout the war, the 'class' of 2531 becoming McNair's best and most famous in later years.
After initial trouble with the young man due to anger issues, McNair quickly took Mack under his wing during training on Reach, where he had become one of the senior trainers. After Mack's 'graduation' later that year and assignment to the blackops unit, McNair wished his protégé luck, and although they kept in contact, they never saw each other in person again. McNair was saddened to see Mack, who was the closest thing he had to a son, leave, but was glad to see he had straightened him out and made him into better soldier.
In 2536, after being dropped onto a colony world, McNair's platoon was faced with several Hunters while protecting civilian evacuation ships. Though the hunters were killed, McNair's left arm was blown off by a fuel rod cannon's blast. He had it replaced with a robotic prosthetic shortly after, refusing to permanently leave the battlefield for anything other than training new ODST's. The next year, while evacuating the colony of Prospect, McNair saved the life of a little girl after her parents had been killed, saving her from Covenant troops and carrying her to an evacuation ship whilst reassuring her that everything would be fine. Though he never saw the girl again, the ODST had a profound impact on her life. Throughout the course of the war, McNair often went between active duty and training new waves of ODST recruits. He fought in many campaigns, including Jericho VII, New Constantinople, Miridem and finally Draco III in 2545.
Draco III and Death
By 2545, McNair, now a Captain, was the commander of an ODST contingent stationed aboard the UNSC Pride. When the planet was attacked in the summer of that year, McNair took personal command of Echo 1-1, a forty-man platoon of ODST's whose ranks had recently been replenished with new troopers, including Ash Mitchell and Mal Roberts, whom he had finished training not long before. The platoon was dropped onto Draco III following a skirmish with Covenant forces, McNair taking a squad into New Albany while the rest of the platoon was diverted to defend one of the planet's Orbital Defence Generators. Shortly after hitting the ground, McNair secured a landing zone in the city's outskirts, calling in for supplies via Pelican dropship before setting up a barricade around the plaza his squad were based in, utilising the two warthogs he had airlifted in to act as the main line of defence as Covenant forces began to attack the city. The ODST group fought off several waves of attackers, using New Albany's narrow streets to their advantage as destroyed wraith tanks impeded the progress of their enemy. While the Covenant was held up, McNair ordered for C-12 charges to be placed on streets leading into the plaza to avoid flanking tactics.
After some time, the Covenant advance began to break through, several troopers being killed as enemy reinforcements began to swarm the human defences in the city. McNair and the surviving troopers mounted up on the warthogs and managed to escape the plaza before they were overwhelmed, detonating the explosives as they did so. The surviving members of the squad made it to the New Albany waterworks, where they met with the SPARTAN-II Sigma Team, who rescued them from a Covenant ambush. Though the ODST disliked the Spartans, he saw their immense tactical value in the battle, and ordered them to defend the city spaceport, where a large-scale evacuation was taking place before leading his men out of the city via the central highway, narrowly evading Covenant patrols.
During the long drive to the ODG Complex where the rest of Echo 1-1 was situated, McNair conversed with Mitchell and Roberts about his decision to immediately send the Spartan team away rather than join them. When questioned about his dislike of the super soldiers, he explained to the pair about the incident years earlier on the UNSC Atlas and the deaths of the men under his command. Mitchell attempted to make McNair put the past behind him, and although the stubborn trooper largely ignored his subordinate, he began to consider his words.
Arriving at the complex, McNair took command from Lieutenant Mira Reyes, his XO, and set about establishing a defensive perimeter to defend the facility from Covenant attack, as it was powering some of the few remaining MAC guns covering the evacuation. For some time, it appeared that the bulk of enemy forces were focusing their attentions on New Albany, until a passing banshee was shot down by one of the troopers, gaining them unwanted attention. As the vanguard of a Covenant attack force began engaging the ODST's outside the complex, the nine Spartans of Sigma Team returned, along with Kryss-216 and her own ODST unit, Tango Six Operations.
After dispatching the enemies outside, the Spartans met with McNair. This time however, it was one of their number giving him orders; Kryss holding the Naval rank of Captain. Though he was perturbed to be taking orders from what he saw as a little girl in Spartan armour, McNair did not voice any objections. He was, however, allowed to order his own soldiers into defensive positions as he saw fit before taking up his place with half a dozen troopers in luring Covenant attackers into an ambush within one of the secondary reactors. As the fighting begun, Lieutenant Reyes reported that her team had discovered a Fury tac-nuke within an armoury, and had plans to activate it if their position was overwhelmed.
McNair fought valiantly in the battle, killing scores of Covenant soldiers alongside his troopers as they assaulted his position again and again. In spite of their efforts, the human defenders were still hopelessly outnumbered and with rising casualties, would have to retreat before it was too late. Hailing the UNSC Bright New Day, Kryss was able to call in an airstrike, shortsword bombers momentarily halting the enemy advance. As the order came in to retreat to the vehicle bay for evacuation, Reyes' team dropped out of contact while in one of the reactor buildings. To get the nuke back, McNair led a team of troopers, along with Marco-035, to reclaim it.
Inside the building, McNair and the others found Reyes and her squad dead, and were immediately attacked by a group of Sangheili warriors. Using his shotgun and combat knife, the trooper was able to hold his own against the sword-wielding elites, killing several until he noticed Marco being thrown to the ground by Iroe 'Nemokee, the Sangheili commander. Before his ally could be killed, McNair leapt onto the elite's back, stabbing him several times with his combat knife. The ODST was quickly thrown off and slashed twice with an energy sword; once across the chest and another severing his robotic arm. Marco was able to drive the elite off with his assault rifle while the other ODST's secured the building.
Shaking off the Spartan's offers of help, McNair, now gravely injured, was able to get to his feet and pick up the tac-nuke. Stowing it in his backpack, he saluted the Spartan, saying that he forgave 'his kind' for what had happened in the past, and ordered Marco to leave the area with the others, asking him to give Ash Mitchell the message that (he) "was right about everything". The survivors retreated to the vehicle bay and escaped the ODG complex on warthogs to an abandoned outpost in the nearby mountains, which would lead them into a disused titanium mine and allow them to reach an evacuation point on the other side of the mountains.
Alone in the facility, wounded and at a severe disadvantage after losing his arm, McNair sought to draw as much attention to himself as possible to draw away the approaching Covenant forces. After provoking the enemy by insulting their religious beliefs on an open COM channel, the ODST led his hunters on a chase through the reactor complex, destroying one of the buildings with C-12 charges that had been rigged there in an earlier battle. This went on for nearly an hour and attracted hundreds of Covenant soldiers to his position while many more pursued the other group into the mountains. Eventually, after being chased down, McNair set the tac-nuke on a timer before being grabbed by several elites, who dragged him outside to meet his fate.
McNair was brought before Iroe 'Nemokee, who was recovering from the injuries previously inflicted on him by the trooper. The Sangheili Officer demanded to know what the human was carrying in his backpack, McNair stating that it was a 'holy relic'. Excited, the elite immediately opened it, only to discover the nuclear device with barely ten seconds to go. McNair laughed in the elite's face as it detonated, obliterating the surrounding area and wiping out tens of thousands of Covenant.
After his death, Henry McNair was remembered as one of many heroes in the Human-Covenant War, becoming something of a legend within the 105th. The last of his trainees, Ash Mitchell and Mal Roberts, were the only survivors of Echo 1-1 after the battle, and remembered McNair for the rest of their lives as a great man and an inspirational figure. Some of the Spartans he fought alongside on Draco III, Marco-035 in particular, acquired great respect for the ODST after fighting alongside him in the battle. Another admirer of McNair was Layla-B101, whom he had saved as a young girl whilst fighting on a colony world. Though she only met McNair once, it was he who inspired her to become a SPARTAN, and influenced her choice of ODST-themed helmets that she wore in her military career. Richard Mack Junior, his finest pupil, was greatly saddened like his death, and a similar fashion to other troopers, based his own leadership methods on McNair's, particularly in his later years.
Though McNair died alone and surrounded, details of his last stand did not go unnoticed. Through orbiting satellites, which picked up the massacre of civilians in Draco III's cities, the battle for the ODG Complex was also seen, as was McNair's sacrifice, the trooper eventually being identified via images taken from orbit. He was posthumously awarded the Colonial Cross for his actions. Many years later, when Draco III was reclaimed and re-colonised by Humanity in the 2580s, a statue was erected in one of it's cities in memory of the trooper who gave his life while fighting the Covenant.
Skills and Abilities
As an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, McNair possessed the qualities of an excellent soldier, being strong and fit for duty. Over the years he became quite a proficient marksman with a rifle, though he specialised in the close quarters combat that many ODST's had to use due to their methods of entering the battlefield, in which a split second could mean the difference between life and death. McNair's general build and strength made him a formidable foe, being known for taking down larger enemies such as Sangheili with lethal efficiency.
Even after decades of service, McNair possessed a good deal of physical strength, though one of his most prominent features was his keen intellect and ability to 'sense' traps, often leading his troops on longer, albeit safer, paths within battle. While most of his skills were attributed towards combat, the man having a professed dislike for the extensive use and reliance on technology, McNair was very proficient in the art of computer hacking and repair, something vital on the many occasions in which he and his soldiers were cut off from proper tools.
Personality and Traits
"There are times when you stand and fight, and there are times when you turn and run like hell. Figuring that out is the key to staying alive out here."
―McNair, educating younger troopers.
Despite his impoverished upbringing and lack of a higher education, McNair turned out to be quite an intelligent individual, something that many others did not expect due to his general gruffness and tough looks that made him seem little more than dumb muscle to some. McNair often attempted to educate the troopers under his command, trying to move away from what he saw as the stereotypical 'hotheaded ODST' look that others sometimes perpetrated. McNair possessed a very strong set of morals, something that his father had imposed upon him from an early age. Though he was seen as quite harsh by those he trained, he treated everyone with some deal of respect. He was also well known for being very hard to please, few people truly impressing the veteran trooper.
With decades of combat experience, McNair had built up a wall around himself, having very few friends and being very reluctant to speak about himself to others. During missions, he would focus solely on his primary objective, though in several cases, he would divert from his main course to save civilians and other soldiers, while still attempting to complete the mission. Of the few friends he had, Richard Mack Jr. was probably the closest, though post 2531 they only saw each other through video communication. Though McNair never had any children, he treated Mack as a son, the former being quite distant from his own father for many years. Mack Jr would often look to the older soldier for advice over the years, something that McNair was always happy to give.