Thursday, February 22, 2024

Avenue of Heroes: John W. McCormick Jr.

Prepared by: Roy Bernard Quady (friend)

John Webster McCormick Jr. was born into a Navy family on January 9, 1944, in Newport, Rhode Island. He was the first child of John ‘Jack’ Sr., USNA Class of 1935, and Marjory ‘Jerry’ McCormick. John was a 1957 graduate of Sacred Heart School and attended Coronado High for his freshman year. He graduated from Yokohama High School in Japan and from Villanova University in Pennsylvania where he completed Naval ROTC.

In September 1965, he was sworn into the Navy by his uncle, Rear Admiral James McCormick. He left for Vietnam on October 1, 1966, and volunteered to serve with the 3rd Marine Division as a Naval Gunfire Liaison Officer in connection with operations against insurgent communist forces in the Republic of Vietnam. On May 18, 1967, during Operation Beau Charger, John was killed during a heavy enemy mortar attack. He was 23 years old and had participated in 12 prior operations.

John was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the third highest military award for acts of gallantry in combat against an enemy of the United States.

The citation reads, in part:

“Ensign McCormick fearlessly exposed himself to intense fire to direct and adjust supporting fires against enemy entrenchments. Maneuvering his gunfire-spotting team into more advantageous positions from which to observe friendly fires, he courageously disregarded his own safety while he moved from one position to another, encouraging his
men and adjusting supporting fires with exceptional accuracy.

As enemy fire intensified, Ensign McCormick directed his men to covered positions while he continued to expose himself to the hostile fire to adjust friendly artillery missions. Although he sustained severe fragmentation wounds, he refused assistance and, urging his men to remain in their relatively secure positions, maintained radio contact with friendly artillery
units, directing their fires until he was no longer able to move.

His indomitable fighting spirit and steadfast determination were an inspiration to all with whom he served and contributed significantly to the accomplishment of his unit’s mission. By his extraordinary courage, bold initiative, and selfless devotion to duty, Ensign McCormick upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

He is buried at Fort Rosecrans next to his parents.

The Avenue of Heroes Program is a military service recognition program sponsored by the City of Coronado. Introduced in 2014, the program has honored 230 hometown heroes to date. On May 20, 2023, another 15 were honored. City staff and volunteers from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2422, the Coronado Historical Association and the Third and Fourth Streets Neighborhood Association oversee its operation. In 2011, the program was inspired spontaneously with the movement of two Navy SEALs to their final resting place. News spread quickly throughout the city and the local Rotary Club passed out American flags. People lined Fourth Street to honor the fallen service members. As the procession approached the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, a lone Navy SEAL stood at attention, saluting as he waited for the passage of his comrades. At that moment, it was clear that Third and Fourth streets were already an Avenue of Heroes. From that spontaneous beginning, the program was launched in May 2015 with 18 banners. Ceremonies are held twice yearly and men and women with ties to the community have been recognized from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. The Avenue of Heroes program is a reminder that Coronado has a rich history and legacy of service to country.

Bella Villarin
Bella Villarin
Bella is a proud military brat who has been a resident of Coronado since 2015. She was born in Japan, and after a short stay in Virginia, traveled extensively throughout Asia while living in Singapore and picking up another language. A senior at Coronado High School, Bella can be found at the driving range or golf course when not in school, studying, writing, playing the guitar, or spending time with her family. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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