Geoff FordenBye Jack, We’re Proud to Have Known You

Jack McGeorge, left, in one of his rubber suits examines an Iraqi 122 mm rocket potentially filled with sarin

One of the great unsung heroes of the UN weapons inspections in Iraq passed away during cardiac surgery on 18 August 2009.

We were fortunate to work with Harvey “Jack” McGeorge at the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) from 2002 to 2003, where he led many Multidisciplinary inspections in Iraq. Jack was an internationally recognized expert on chemical and biological warfare in general and munitions in particular whose career included the U.S. Marine Corps and Army Special Forces as well as the U.S. Secret Service. Having come up “through the ranks,” he was awarded a honorary Doctorate by the Russian State Research Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology (GosNIIOKhT) for his work in the field of chemical and biological terrorism.

For those of us who knew Jack, he was a wonderful friend and colleague who was generous with his time and knowledge. It seems like everything we know about munitions, and there is a great deal to know, we learned from Jack; usually over coffee in the basement of the UN Headquarters. Few things made him as happy as thinking about spinning iron balls spewing boiling mustard gas. At the same time, he was dedicated to eradicating these terrible weapons, which just shows that you have to know the devil to get rid of him. This is not the time or place to write the complete history of the weapons inspection process in Iraq, but when it is written, Jack will be seen to have played important roles from debunking aluminum tubes to confirming anthrax filled gravity bombs.
Mike Elleman
Geoff Forden


  1. Jacqueline Shire (History)

    I just want to second the thoughtful note by Mike and Geoff. I met Jack for the first time when he was on staff at UNMOVIC and was in touch with him as recently as a few months ago. He was always too modest about his contributions to the weapons inspections effort, and so generous with his time and expertise. I am so sorry to learn of his passing.

  2. JL

    He was a fantastic guy and extremely knowledgeable and kind. My condolences to his family and friends. JL

  3. JK

    He had a contagious glee about him, a way of talking about everything, including bomb disposal, as if it was going to be so much fun.

    He really had been there and done that, but was low-key enough about it that it took a while to realize how well-traveled the man was. If you mentioned that bar in Kinasha, he knew it, and that reminded him of this story…and the story would be great, one to remember, and retell to those of your friends who’d appreciate it, and understand.

    In an environment where others swaggered, he was calm and self-possessed. He may have had more to worry about than they did, but it bothered him less. He’d proved whatever he had to prove to himself, long ago.

    I’ll miss him.

  4. Corinne Heraud

    It is a very sad day for us all. Jack was a good man and a great teammate.
    My condolences to his family and friends.
    Rest in peace Jack.

  5. Michael Weber, Phd (History)

    I knew Jack since the mid 70’s, right off he was the type that impressed you andsoon after became a very good friend. Many time we;d contact each other for some technical help, then spend time just BS’ing. Just before his passing we had been talking about our health problems, thought I’d go first. In any case Jack you were a great friend and the most profession WMD guy I ever met. I will miss you.


  6. k. mereish

    Jack, you were one of a kind as ammunition expert, second to none. Jack gave me my first lesson on unconventional weapons in 1994. Since then, he continued to lecture and train our UN inspectors. Experienced, compassionate and best friend is lost. God bless you.


  7. Ed Pinson, USA (RET) (History)

    Mr. McGorge,
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge, may you rest in peace knowing the good you have left to this world.

  8. John Syphrit (History)

    I am so sorry to hear about Jack. I met him in 1977 with the US Secret Service. We performed many tasks together. He was a great man.

    Cheers to Jack,

    John Syphrit.

  9. Colin (History)

    I have been both a friend and work associate of mine for the last few years. It is by his knowledge alone that my team is going on mission fully knowlegeble about CBW issues in the AO. I have been working very closley with the family since Jack left us, I assure you, though they have not seen this article yet they deeply appreciate everyone remebering Jack.
    Colin D.

  10. Stephen Spring (History)

    There are those few people we encounter through life who make us better people and enrich our lives.
    I am privileged to have known Jack.
    He was my friend and a true patriot and hero!

  11. JD Hawkins (History)

    After sending Jack a message, I followed a Wiki link to his bio page and was shocked to find that he had passed. I think many people in due time will realize that a great technician, friend, teacher and mentor has left us. He was so very influencial in so many lives in such a wonderfully unintrusive way.

    He will be greatly missed!