To Dorothy and Mac McCormick, being a part of the U.S. military is nothing new. After all, Mac served in the Navy for 27 years.
And now, in their retirement, they’re mom and dad to James and Bob, who currently serve in the U.S. Army; Dave, who serves in the Navy; and Michael, who is active duty Air Force.
To honor their four sons who are serving, and their wives, and all U.S. military, they’ll be in the Armed Forces Day Parade in Mac’s gray Mitsubishi Raider truck which will be all decked out in patriotic garb.
“We’ve got a sign that has our sons’ names and their ranks on it that we attach to the truck,” said Mac. “This is about honoring them, but it’s also about thanking their wives, and thanking all the active duty military and their families. They all give so much.”
Dorothy knows all about being a Navy spouse. She did it for 27 years, and in that time raised 10 children including two sets of twins.
Of their children, seven sons and three daughters who range in age from 36 to 49, James, Bob, Dave and Michael, are the ones who choice to follow in dad’s footsteps with a military career.
James, an Army Warrant Officer 3, is an Apache helicopter pilot deployed in Afghanistan. He’s based out of Joint Base Lewis McChord near Tacoma.
Bob is also in the Army, and is a Sergeant 1st Class, combat engineer, at Fort Lee in Virginia. He’s currently assigned to a teaching position.
Dave decided on a career in the Navy, after being a longhaul truck driver in Texas.
“He told us he was just driving by a recruiting station one day and something told him he needed to go in there,” his mother said.
He’s currently a OSI, a radar operations specialist/combat information center. He arrived this month in Bremerton and is assigned to the USS Stennis for the next three years.
Michael is a captain in the Air Force and a physician who has just completed his residency in Ohio. He has been assigned to Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi and will be moving there in July.
All of them are married and Dorothy and Mac are very complimentary of their wives.
“All of their wives are very supportive of their choices,” Mac said. “They are really the ‘heros.’ They are the ones who have to figure out what to do when the washer breaks or the car breaks down while their husbands are away.”
Bob and Sherri have three sons. Mike and Megan have six children. James and Tresa have four boys. And Dave and Amy have three boys.
In total, Mac and Dorothy have 36 grandchildren and one step great-grandchild.
Mac considers himself part of the Brown Water Navy, having served in Vietnam. He was in the Navy from 1964 to 1988, when he retired for a couple of years, only to go back in 1990 for another three years.
Having seen the Pacific Northwest during his service, he knew he wanted to retire in the Bremerton area. The family settled here in 1992. By then the three oldest children were out of the house. The others grew up in Bremerton.
When Mac was on deployment, Dorothy was his hero, he said. They moved just about every two to three years.
“She made it through all of that,” he said.
She even made it through a deployment in 1985, when on the day he shipped out, one son broke his arm when the garage door came down on it, only to be followed by a second son breaking his arm a few days later.
Because they know military life so well, they also have helped other young military families through the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society. They’ve helped families get furnishings and get moved in. They been substitute parents for lonely Navy spouses and they’ve even babysat.
“It’s a super organization,” Mac said. “The real key is that when you move to a new place, you have to get involved. We always had a church. But there’s also volunteering or getting to know the military family organizations.”
Most years, Mac takes some of his grandchildren to the pancake breakfast and then to the parade. When he’s not riding in the parade, he likes to “school” the grandkids on the military units that ride by, and on how to properly honor the American Flag when it passes by.
“That’s something they don’t get in school anymore,” he said. “I believe in teaching by example.”
Dorothy and Mac do worry as any parents would, about all their children, especially those serving in the military.
“Just like when Mac was in the Navy, I say my prayers for the boys every night and then I give it over to God,” said Dorothy.
Leslie Kelly is special sections editor for Sound Publishing’s Kitsap News Group.
This story originally appeared in the Armed Forces 2017 Festival Guide, a special section published on May 19 in the Bainbridge Island Review.