Hello Friends! It’s good to be back online doing the thing that I enjoy the most and that is bringing great Calvert County personalities to your attention. We are so blessed here in our little corner of the world to have so many wonderful citizens who look after one another with little or no fanfare. I am continually amazed at the number of our neighbors that unselfishly give of themselves in ways most of us have never realized. They often remain below the “radar” as they seldom seek publicity or recognition for their great deeds. In searching out and meeting with these “unsung” heroes, it can be a challenge to get them to open up and truly speak of themselves in a comfortable manner where they are not left to feel that they are “bragging” about their accomplishments. And there are a few that have absolutely refused to be interviewed and allow their stories to be told…
Now having said this, I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am to have had the opportunity to meet with and interview this week’s personality! I have known of Commander Patricia McCoy, known to all of us as “Pat”, for many years through my association with the American Legion here in Calvert County. I have admired this lady for her many successes and contributions to the community during her twenty eight year involvement with this charitable, fraternal organization. But until recently, I never had a chance to just sit and chat with her about her life’s experiences, especially her strong motivation to help others. Like many past subjects of this journal, Pat was not raised here, but found her way to “God’s Country” as a result of her military service.
Born in Ashville, North Carolina, Pat considered herself a country girl with dreams of seeing the world. Upon graduation from high school in 1971, Pat immediately saw her Navy recruiter and found herself attending Navy “boot camp” at Naval Training Center in Bainbridge, Maryland, a story much like my own when I could not wait to get away following high school and saw the Navy as my means to “escape”! The Navy in the early 70’s was a much different world then today’s military where a female sailor can go to sea on an aircraft carrier or pilot our latest, most sophisticated attack airplane. A young woman’s choices and opportunities back then were very limited and not all that exciting.
Following completion of Basic Training, Pat was assigned to the staff at Bainbridge and became involved with instructing female recruits not much younger than her self. In time she was advanced to Seaman and fell in love with a young man and became pregnant. Naval regulations at the time would not permit a pregnant female to remain on active duty so, despite her desires, she was Honorably discharged from active duty. Not long after, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, the Chief of Naval Operations commenced a series of changes that included radical improvement of equality for females and opened many of the formerly closed ratings [occupations] to women. But, alas, it was too late for Pat as she was building her family and getting on with her life. She is the proud mother of two grown sons, Christopher Allen Martin and Major Richard Alden Martin, United States Army. Pat has always enjoyed working with people in the community, especially our military veterans.
Not long after being discharged, she decided to join the American Legion as a means of staying close to the military. As she told me, “It was like you were still serving”! She loved the camaraderie of the Legionnaires and how they came together to help provide aid and support for many causes within the community. Like me, I know Pat gets great pleasure seeing men and women of all five military services, both active duty, former members and retirees coming together in working for the common good. Since attending her first fundraisers and bull roasts at Legion Post 206 in Chesapeake Beach as a young Legionnaire, Pat has never stopped giving of herself to this group. She chaired many events in the early years, than accepted the role of Post Historian for four years. Following that assignment, she served as Service Officer, then was elected to the number two position as the Post First Vice Commander where she was responsible for many Post activities including filling in for the Post Commander in his absence.
In 1998, Pat was elected Post Commander, a role she has held four times. Please note, she was the first female to hold this position for this large institution and her successes have established her reputation as a trendsetter. She next served two terms as the Calvert County Commander responsible for all four Legion Posts within the County. She became very popular with members throughout Southern Maryland for her uncanny ability to “get the job done”! Her charming personality and beautiful smile can fool you though as she can be a “tough cookie” when the time comes to roll up the sleeves to accomplish the tough tasks. But that is a side of her that is seldom seen. Currently, through her great dedication and devotion, Pat is the American Legion’s Department of Maryland Second Vice Officer, a position that places her in line to become the head of the American Legion here in Maryland in the summer of 2016. This is a remarkable accomplishment for any Legionnaire, but what is all the more amazing is the fact this position of leadership is seldom achieved by a woman at the State level anywhere in the Country!!!
Throughout her life, she has been proud to represent her County, then Southern Maryland and, in just over a year, her State. She shared with me her love of her community here is due to the many great friendships she has formed and the very supportive nature of our citizens. She believes folks here, more than anywhere else, reach out to help one another. We agree, this is what makes Calvert so beautiful! Finally, when I asked her when she looks back at her life’s work was there anything else that makes her smile and she immediately responded “I am proud to be a Navy veteran!” Pat, I know I speak for many of your friends and neighbors when I say how proud we are of you and your years of commitment to helping others! I salute you for your great service. Thank you so much!