Retired veteran Bob McCoy served in the navy during the Vietnam War.
Enlisting at the age of 18, the Joplin native was eager to serve his country.
“I was in one of the twelve boilers on the ship,” McCoy explained. “And we supplied the power for the ship and also the catapults, so during launches the planes had power to get off the flight deck.”
MCcoy worked to power the U.S.S. Coral Sea CV 43, that was traveling throughout all of Southeast Asia.
Upon that vessel, he made some friends, some of which he still receives mail from today, like his good friend John that now lives in Palm Beach, Florida.
“I know we worked hard and long hours in the heat of the boiler room as BT’s, but it was an honor to have served this nation during its time of need. And I will never forget the bond we made while standing long watches in the heat,” said McCoy.
Now, he works for Carl Junction Schools as a bus driver.
And recently, he has returned from a trip to the nation’s capitol through the Honor Flight of the Ozarks.
He says the the entire experience and having school staff by his side has been extremely humbling.
“I just can’t give enough thanks for that. We can all only imagine what heaven is like. But at Arlington Cemetery, it’s a very, very humbling place. And I just can’t say the feeling you get when you’re there,” McCoy added.
And looking back on his service, he remembers that time with admiration.
He says he fought for the U.S. with the next generation in mind.
“And I’ve always said this, ‘Our freedom is the next generation behind us,'” McCoy added. “But if I had to do today, what I did then, I would do it in a heartbeat.”
McCoy adds he also received more than fifty letters from the school district in support of him serving his country.
He added his ship was the first vessel to come into Da Nang Harbor in Vietnam.
And, the carrier did most tours to the Gulf of Tonkin.