By Jimmie Ferguson
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE Frail bones and a weak heart will keep one World War II veteran home today, but it doesnt diminish his belief in Veterans Day
I think Veterans Day is a helluva good idea, said Ivor W. McKay, 85, who is also a Korean War veteran.
The thing that irritates me about it is so many people dont give a damn about the veterans anyhow, McKay said. For them, its another holiday.
McKay, who was recently selected as the local 2005 Distinguished Military Retiree of the Year, said when he was growing up, Veterans Day was a big day.
Everybody was off. They had fireworks, parades and all the rest of the stuff, he said. After World War II, it kind of disappeared, and after Vietnam, it completely disappeared. The attitude of people was, he was just a baby killer, why should we go watch a parade?
Except for the area around here, Veterans Day is just another day off throughout the country, said the 29-year Army veteran.
McKay was presented the Distinguished Mili-tary Retiree honor for achievements during his active-duty career, both war and peacetime contributions, and continued distinguished contributions during retirement to the retiree community as well as the community at large, said Beth Waller, the Fort Hood Retirement Services officer.
McKay, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, entered the Army on March 5, 1939, as an enlisted man and retired as a lieutenant colonel at Fort Hood in 1968.
His first assignment was in an artillery unit in Lakeland, Fla.
In those days, they didnt have MOSs (military occupational specialties). You were just an artilleryman, McKay said, as he explained the various jobs he performed to obtain the ranks and positions of scout corporal, an armorer and eventually a supply sergeant.
On Feb. 2, 1943, McKay was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the infantry, a branch of service that he never liked. McKay was an artilleryman at heart.
The funny part of it is, I wasnt a citizen of the United States, and they didnt know it, he laughed.
After earning his commission, McKay said he did all kinds of odd jobs until Easter 1944, when he ended up in the midst of World War II with the 109th Infantry Regiment.
That September, he was hit by an enemy artillery round that shattered his right arm.
We had taken over enemy bunkers on the Siegfried Line, and the enemy was shelling us, he said.
McKay spent 27 months in the hospital, where doctors had to rebuild his arm.
When he left the hospital, McKay had various assignments. He left the Army in 1948 and came back a month later as a staff sergeant.
While assigned in Korea, he was recalled in the Army at the rank of captain still in the infantry.
After Korea, McKay came to Fort Hood.
I was in III Corps at the time that I retired, he laughed, as he pointed out that he still has his uniform with the III Corps shoulder patch on it. Amazingly, I was here when they reactivated III Corps in 1961.
Among his top military awards are the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal and the Combat Infantry Badge.
McKay began his civilian career in 1968. He sold insurance, worked manufacturing storm windows and retired 25 years later as a civil service employment at Fort Hood.
While doing that, he found a way to give back, particularly to the children in his community in an organization he loved the Boy Scouts.
He served as a master in both the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and on the round table commission, along with his wife of 60 years, the late Margaret Peg Burton, from Northern Ireland.
I joined the Boy Scouts in 1932 and got my Eagle in 1938, McKay said.
Up until about two years ago, McKay had worked constantly with the Boy Scouts until his wife went into the hospital. She left there and went into a nursing home.
I dropped back on working with the Scouts, because I couldnt handle both, he said
Margaret McKay died June 20, 2005.
Believe it or not, I am going back into the Boy Scouts tonight, McKay said Monday. Ive decided that now I can go back and pick up what I was doing working for the Eagle Scouts, sitting on the boards and what have you.
Contact Jimmie Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org