Navy Veteran/ Local Priest Receives Quilt of Valor

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Photo by David Epps

James Anthony (Tony) McGee, Newnan, was recently chosen to be the recipient of a quilt of valor from the Quilt of Valor Foundation. A Quilt of Valor® (QOV) is a quality, handmade quilt that is machine or hand quilted. It is awarded to a Service Member or Veteran who has been touched by war.  The Quilt says unequivocally, “Thank you for your service and sacrifice in serving our nation.”

To use the term Quilt of Valor, Quilts of Valor or QOV, the quilt must be a specific size, must have a label with required information, it must be awarded (it is not a gift) and it must be recorded. McGee received his award on September 11 at a special 9/11 observation in Newnan’s Veterans Park.

.  Mr. McGee, 75, joined the United States Navy on October 30, 1964. Originally from Moultrie, GA, following basic training, he attended several schools, including, Aviation Fundamentals Course Class “A”, Aviation Machinist’s Mate (J) Course Class “A” School, Corrosion Control Course, and several  Naval Correspondence courses. He was assigned to the aircraft carrier U. S. S. Forrestal. 

Forrestal departed her home port in Norfolk, Virginia in early June 1967. After she completed required inspections for the upcoming West Pacific cruise, she sailed to Brazil for a show of force. She then traveled east around the Horn of Africa and visited Naval Air Station Cubi Point in the Philippine Islands before sailing to Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin on 25 July.

After arrival at Yankee Station, aircraft from Attack Carrier Airwing 17 flew approximately 150 missions against targets in North Vietnam over four days. On 29 July 1967, a fire broke out on board the Forrestal  after an electrical anomaly caused a Zuni rocket on a F-4B Phantom to fire, striking an external fuel tank of an A-4 Skyhawk. The flammable jet fuel spilled across the flight deck, ignited, and triggered a chain-reaction of explosions that killed 134 sailors and injured 161. At the time, Forrestal was engaged in combat operations against North Vietnam. The ship survived, but with damage exceeding $72 million, not including the damage to aircraft. Future United States Senator John McCain was among the survivors. The disaster prompted the Navy to revise its firefighting practices. It also modified its weapon handling procedures.

McGee, whose Military Occupational Specialty designation was “Aircraft Mechanic,” achieved the rank of Petty Officer Second Class, or E-5. For his service, McGee received the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device, the Vietnam Service Medal with Bronze Star, the National Defense Medal, and a Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon awarded for “outstanding heroism in action against the enemy or extremely meritorious service in support of combat operations.” Petty Officer McGee’s last assignment was with Attack Squadron Sixty Five. He was released from active service having completed his four year enlistment and received an Honorable Discharge.

In 2013, McGee retired as an Industrial Maintenance Mechanic. He had been ordained to the ministry for some time but retirement freed him for greater service in the church, Currently, Father Tony McGee is a priest-in-residence at Christ the King Church, Sharpsburg, GA, where he is extremely active. In 2020, he was named an Honorary Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese of the Mid-South. He and his wife Jeanie, a nurse, reside in Newnan. They have three adult sons: Scott, who works for Turner Classic Movies; Sean, a Navy Veteran, who works for Siemens, a technology company; and Seth, a federal law enforcement officer. The McGees have eleven grandchildren.

Photo by David Epps