Chief McCoy celebrates his 90th Birthday

  • Published
  • By L. Cunningham
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs

Retired Chief Master Sgt. James McCoy, the sixth Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, celebrated his 90th birthday July 30 at his home in Papillion, Nebraska.

Members of the Heartland of America Band serenaded McCoy outside his home by playing Happy Birthday and additional music as many well-wishers drove by to wish him a happy birthday.

“He’s 90, which is awesome, with a lot of community aspects to it,” said grand-daughter Dani Finochiaro. "He is an important figure, not only in my life but in a lot of people's lives."

McCoy joined the Air Force in January 1951 and became a radar operator. He quickly moved through the ranks, from Corporal to Technical Sergeant in just five years.

During his young career, he became a military training instructor, cadet instructor at Reserve Officer Training Center, prepatory school instructor, and Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of Professional Military Education for Strategic Air Command.

McCoy achieved the rank of Chief Master Sergeant in just 16 years of service. He served as the sixth Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force from 1979 to 1981, advising both the Air Force Chief of Staff, General Lew Allen, and Secretary of the Air Force, Hans Mark, on matters concerning the welfare, effective utilization and progress of the enlisted members of the Air Force.

McCoy retired with 30 years of service with the Legion of Merit, three Meritorious Service Medals, and three Air Force Commendation Medals.

Once retired, he served on several councils and boards in the Omaha area. He also served as the national president for the Air Force Association, serving two terms as its chairman of the board.

In 2007, the Airmen Leadership School at Offutt Air Force Base was dedicated in his honor. Both McCoy and his wife Kathy still attend ALS graduations whenever possible.

“We were stationed at Offutt twice and had a great career,” said McCoy. “Having people like this walking by, the band here, and just seeing how patriotic this country is, I'm glad that we can participate."