Notable as the sixth person to hold the office of Chief Master Sergeant of the United States Air Force, he served in the Vietnam War and earned numerous military honors, including the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the National Defense Service Medal.
After briefly attending both St. Ambrose College in Iowa and St. Benedict's College in Kansas, he earned a bachelor's degree in business from the Centenary College of Louisiana and went on to graduate from the Second Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer Academy and the U.S. Air Force Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy.
In the late 1950s, he began assistant commanding the University of Notre Dame's Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps of Cadets.
He spent his early childhood in Creston, Iowa, and his high school years in Atchison, Kansas.
McCoy and former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge both received National Defense Service Medals and Vietnam Service Medals.