June 19, 2007

Fighter pilot added to Sawyer wall of honor

A Marquette native and Vietnam veteran has been added to the Marquette County Aviation Wall of Honor at Sawyer International Airport.

Dennis McCarthy, born in Marquette in 1944, flew an F-4E Phantom — the top fighter aircraft of its time — during the Vietnam War. During the war he flew more than 300 combat missions, earning two Distinguished Flying Crosses and more than 20 Air Medals.

“It was the thrill of a lifetime,” McCarthy said about flying the Phantom. He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1967 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant.

McCarthy, who now lives in Florida, said he was fortunate that he finished his pilot training with a ranking high enough to warrant getting being assigned to the Phantom.

“Being a young single guy, a jock by spirit, that’s what it was all about — to be able to fly fighters in spite of the fact that you knew it was going to take you to Vietnam,” he said. “It was a thrill and a very high performance aircraft — thank God it was, from time to time, in combat situations.”

After the war, McCarthy enjoyed a 24-year career with Johnson and Johnson’s Vision Care Division. He was part of the team that introduced the world’s first disposable contact lens in 1987. He retired in 2004 as vice president of worldwide marketing.

McCarthy was heavily involved in Little League baseball when he lived in Marquette. He said the team that he played on in the late 1950s advanced through the first levels toward the Little League World Series.

He hasn’t seen the Sawyer wall of honor yet, but McCarthy said he comes to Marquette at least once a year to visit his sister, brother-in-law and mother — who all still live in the area.

By CHRISTOPHER DIEM, Journal Staff Writer
The full of this article's can be read on the source at: The Mining Journal

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