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McGahey saw action in Vietnam, Thailand

Master Sergeant William McGahey. CONTRIBUTED
Master Sergeant William McGahey. CONTRIBUTED

Veteran of the Week

MADISON – William M. ‘Bill’ McGahey reached the rank of Master Sergeant (E-7) in the U.S. Air Force.

He enlisted in the Air Force on Nov. 11, 1963 and completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB) in San Antonio, Texas. “From there, I attended technical training at Lowry AFB in Denver, Colo. in the nuclear weapons field,” McGahey said.

McGahey then was assigned to 29 Fighter Squadron at Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, Mont. for one year. He returned to Lowry AFB for cross training into Aircraft Munitions Loading Field and assigned as an instructor.

“Vietnam was ramping up at this point. The Air Force needed many more personnel in this field,” McGahey said. “After three years, I was assigned to 16th Special Operations Squadron in Ubon Royal Air Force Base, Thailand as an aerial gunner on the first AC-130 gunship.”

Back at Lowry AFB, he served as an instructor and then was stationed at Minot AFB, N.D., followed by a remote tour to Eskisehir AB, Turkey. “The final assignment sent the family to Vandenberg AFB in Lompoc, Calif.” McGahey said.

In 1984, he retired as Master Sergeant (E-7) and stayed at Vandenberg for the next 23 years. Working for Lockheed Martin until 2007, he first was an Operations Safety Engineer on the Space Shuttle Program and then with Titan Missile Program.

He earned an associate’s degree in quality assurance at Allan Hancock College.

He and his wife, the former Judy Crowley, have three children: Kimberly of Port St. John, Fla., Deborah of Huntsville and Daniel of Lompoc, Calif. The McGaheys have seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

“After retiring, we wanted a different state to live in. After visiting Huntsville, we decided to make this area our home,” McGahey said. “I’ve joined American Legion Post 229 in Madison and Vietnam Veterans of America, and I volunteer for CASA, which keeps my days pretty full.”

When he does get away, he attends NASCAR and National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) races. “Cars and travel have been my addiction throughout the years,” McGahey said.

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