James M. McCoy was adviser to Secretary of the Air Force Hans Mark and Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Lew Allen Jr., on matters concerning welfare, effective utilization, and progress of the enlisted members of the Air Force. He was the sixth Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, the highest noncommissioned officer (NCO) position. Chief McCoy was born in Creston, Iowa, and graduated from Maur Hill High School, Atchison, Kansas, in 1948. He entered the Air Force in January 1951 after attending St. Benedict’s College in Atchison and St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa.
After basic training, Chief McCoy served with the Air Defense Command as a radar operator and instructor. In 1957, he transferred to Clark AB, Philippines, where he served as the base training noncommissioned officer. During the Taiwan crisis of August 1958, he was instrumental in establishing and operating the wing command post which coordinated all Composite Air Strike Force aircraft. In 1960, Chief McCoy was assigned as commandant, Strategic Air Command NCO Preparatory School at the 305th Bombardment Wing, Bunker Hill AFB, Indiana. Two years later he was selected as an instructor with the 2nd Air Force NCO Academy at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. There he supervised the course of study development for the NCO leadership schools. He transferred to Headquarters Strategic Air Command in June 1967 where he was the NCO professional military education monitor for the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel. While there, he established and monitored the SAC NCO Academy and NCO Leadership School programs.
Chief McCoy transferred in 1970 to the 41st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Wing, Hickam AFB, Hawaii, as NCOIC of operations training. He supervised and monitored all training programs for the H-3, H-43, H-53 and HC-130 aircraft crews assigned to wing units throughout the Pacific and Southeast Asia. Concurrently, he served as senior enlisted adviser to the wing commander. Chief McCoy was assigned in April 1973 as chief, military training branch HQ Pacific Air Forces where he completely revitalized the on-the-job training program. It was during this assignment in 1974, he was selected as one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Air Force.
He returned to the Strategic Air Command in March 1975 and became its first Senior Enlisted Advisor. During this period he served as the personal representative to the commander for all the enlisted men and women of the command. In 1979, he became the 6th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force and subsequently retired in November 1981. Still active in many business and civic organizations, he has served on several councils and boards of directors at both local and national levels. In particular, he has served two terms as the Air Force Association’s national president and two terms as its chairman of the board. He was the first enlisted man to serve as the AFA’s president. CMSAF McCoy lives just outside of Omaha, Nebraska, with his wife of 60 years, Kathy.