Fred Mahaffey was born on January 4, 1934, in Clovis, New Mexico. He was commissioned a 2LT of Infantry through the Army ROTC program at the University of Denver on June 10, 1955, and went on active duty beginning July 30, 1955. After completing the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Airborne School, and Ranger School in 1956, CPT Mahaffey served in various Infantry assignments in the U.S. and in Europe before completing the Infantry Officer Advanced Course in 1961, and Special Warfare Counter Insurgency Training in 1963. MAJ Mahaffey deployed to South Vietnam from October 1963 to October 1964, and then completed Command and General Staff College in 1966. LTC Mahaffey served as G-3 Officer with the 9th Infantry Division in South Vietnam from July to November 1968, as Commander of 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division in South Vietnam from November 1968 to May 1969, and then as Deputy Chief of Staff of the 9th Infantry Division from May to July 1969. His next assignment was on the staff of the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, from September 1969 to August 1971, and during this time he served briefly as a Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff of the Army and completed National War College. He served in the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army in the Pentagon from August 1971 to July 1973, and then served as Head of G-3 with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, from July 1973 to January 1975. His next assignment was as Commander of 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division from January 1975 to April 1976, followed by service as Special Assistant to the Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division from April to May 1976. BG Mahaffey served as Assistant Commandant of the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning from May 1976 to April 1978, and then as Deputy Commander of the Combined Arms Training Developments Activity at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, from April 1978 to October 1979. Gen Mahaffey then served as Director of Requirements on the staff of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans with Headquarters U.S. Army in the Pentagon from October 1979 to March 1981, followed by service as Commander of the 3rd Infantry Division in Wurzburg, West Germany, from March 1981 to February 1983. His next assignment was as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans with Headquarters U.S. Army from February 1983 to June 1985, and then as Commander in Chief of U.S. Readiness Command at MacDill AFB, Florida, from June 1985 until his medical retirement from the Army on October 3, 1986. Fred Mahaffey died on October 13, 1986, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
His 3rd Silver Star Citation reads:
For gallantry in action involving close combat with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam: Lieutenant Colonel Mahaffey distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions from 12 May to 13 May 1969 while serving as Commanding Officer, 2d Battalion, 60th Infantry, during a reconnaissance in force mission in Long An Province. After his unit came under attack, Lieutenant Colonel Mahaffey, flying in the Command and Control helicopter, continually exposed himself to enemy fire while flying low over the area to adjust air and artillery fire against the hostile forces, and direct ground troops in coordinated assaults against the enemy positions. During ensuing action, after taking control of the operation on the ground, Lieutenant Colonel Mahaffey called in gunship strikes to within 35 meters of his position, and skillfully continued to direct fire support into the area until the enemy force was totally defeated. Lieutenant Colonel Mahaffey's extraordinary heroism in close combat with an armed hostile force is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 9th Infantry Division and the United States Army.