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Chief McCoy celebrates his 90th Birthday

looking through car window military member waving to Chief McCoy and his wife that can be seen through the open passenger car window, sitting in front of their home. Chief McCoy waving back to military member in the car.

Retired Chief Master Sgt. James McCoy celebrated his 90th birthday with his wife Kathy July 30, 2020 at their home in Papillion, Nebraska. Due to the pandemic, Chief McCoy and wife Kathy watched from a bench as members of the community drove in front of their home. McCoy served as the 6th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force from 1979 to 1981. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt William O’Brien)

retired Chief Master Sgt. James McCoy and his wife Kathy wearing face masks, holding hands while they sit in front of their home

Retired Chief Master Sgt. James McCoy and his wife Kathy pose for a photograph in front of their home in Papillion, Nebraska July 30, 2020. Celebrating his 90th Birthday, Chief McCoy was serenaded by the Heartland of America Band playing Happy Birthday. Many members of the community drove by with balloons and birthday wishes. McCoy served as the 6th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force from 1979 to 1981. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt William O’Brien)

foreground of photo has retired CMSgt James McCoy and his wife Kathy sitting on a bench watching as a car with a Happy Birthday Banner pinned on it drives by

Members of the community drive to retired Chief Master Sgt. James McCoy’s home in Papillion, Nebraska July 30, 2020 to wish him a Happy 90th Birthday. Due to the pandemic, Chief McCoy and wife Kathy watched from a bench as vehicles drove in front of their home. McCoy served as the 6th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force from 1979 to 1981. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt William O’Brien)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

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."