Courtesy of his classmates, United States Military Academy
THOMAS RODERICK MCCORMICK
NO. 16093 CLASS OF 1946
DIED 9 SEPTEMBER 1981 AT CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
INURNMENT: ARLINGTON NATIONAL COLUMBARIUM
Tom was born into the Army in Honolulu, Hawaii to Colonel John J. and Annie(McAnally) McCormick on 1 July 1924. His father was an Army doctor and his mother a former Army nurse. Tom was the eldest of three children having a sister Caroline and brother John. He graduated from East Denver High School in Denver, Colorado in 1942. He then attended Millard’s Prep School in Washington, D.C. before joining the Class of 1946 at West Point on 1 July 1943. Classmate and B-2 Company mate Bob Isbell remembered Tom as a cadet: “I remember Tom’s irrepressible and brash sense of humor. Many times as a plebe in formation being questioned by an upperclassman, Tom would answer by blurting out some bizarre, startling or simply ‘BJ’ comment that would always bring down the house. No matter how immediate or violent the always anticipated upperclass reaction, there was always a faint smile on Tom’s lips. Because of his fair skin and his rosy, freckled cheeks, Tom always looked ‘underage.’ ” Tom was commissioned a second lieutenant of Infantry at graduation.
He attended the Infantry Basic Course at Fort Benning, Georgia as well as the Airborne School. He was awarded the Parachute and Glider qualification badges. His first assignment was to the 6th Infantry Division in Korea with subsequent assignment as an advisor to a Korean Infantry Regiment. Returning to the States in 1949, he went to the 187th Airborne Regiment at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Tom returned to Korea with the 187th when that unit entered the Korean War. He earned the Bronze Star Medal and the
Combat Infantry Badge. Returning to the States in 1951, Tom attended the Armor Advanced Course at Fort Knox, Kentucky. While there he took time out to marry Bonnie Flener at Knoxville, Tennessee. From Fort Knox, the McCormicks went to ROTC duty at the University of Rhode Island. A daughter, Marianne (Kelly) was born in 1954. Kelly followed in Tom’s footsteps, joining the Army as a private in 1974 and retiring in 1993 as a Captain. The family next went to Berlin where Tom served in the G-4 Section of the Berlin Command. A second daughter, Casey was born in 1957 during this assignment. Casey is presently a State Police Corporal with the Pennsylvania State Police.
Tom was next assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina and successfully completed the Special Warfare School. He was then assigned to the 77th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg. That assignment called for a great deal of temporary duty in Southeast Asia on missions training the Laotian Army. He also attended the Cold Weather and Mountain School at Big Delta, Alaska and the Intelligence School at Fort Holabird, Maryland while assigned to the 77th SF Group.
Tom left the Army in 1961 and joined Burroughs (now UNISYS) Defense, Space and Special Systems Division as a Senior Program Control Analyst in Paoli, Pennsylvania. While at Burroughs, he contributed to the success of a number of major defense projects of the 1960s including the Airborne Long Range Intercept (ALRI) Program, the SAGE Back-up-Intercept-Control (BUIC) Project and the 425-L (Hole-in-the-mountain) Air Defense Program. A third daughter, Bonnie (Sam) was born in 1964. In 1971, Tom joined the John Middleton Tobacco Company as Sales Manager for the states of Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. In 1972 and 1973, Tom worked with the Department of Housing and Urban Development as a Program Analyst for the Pennsylvania Flood Disaster. He received a commendation from the Secretary of HUD for his work helping victims of Hurricane Agnes.
From 1974 to 1977, Tom worked for United Engineers and Construction Company at the Salem, New Jersey Nuclear Power Plant overseeing piping and mechanical quality control. He and Bonnie were divorced in late 1974 after a long separation. In 1977, Tom joined the Bectel Company working first as a Field Quality Control Engineer on a project in Arun, Indonesia. In 1978, Bectel sent Tom to Jubail, Saudi Arabia to work in management coordinating data on cost and scheduling. Tom left Bectel in 1980 and died in Charleston, South Carolina on 9 September 1981. He was survived by his daughters, Casey, Bonnie and Kelly and his brother, John.
Tom’s life was not a smooth one, but it was an honorable one. He made and kept a commitment to Duty-Honor-Country. He always chose right over wrong. He never established a “home base” but he always conducted himself with a quiet dignity throughout his travels all over the world. He always loved the Army and was particularly proud that he was a “Green Beret.” His total belief in the principles learned at West Point were paramount in his life as evidenced that among his most prized possessions when he died were his Bugle Notes from 1943 and memorabilia from West Point. His daughter Casey had this to say about her father: “His legacy continues, his daughters are proud to believe, through their lives and their work – one an Army career officer and one a State Trooper – serving their country and community as the example of his life guides them. I can only strive to live as honorable life as he. I wish he knew what good he did – and thank each of his classmates for your influence in his life and thereby mine. We understand little of the impact each of us have.”
The Class of 1946 joins Tom’s family and friends in saying, “Rest in Peace, Tom.”
‘46 Memorial Article Project and his daughter, Casey.
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard