By MADDY VITALE
Francis X. McCormac is a decorated U.S. Army veteran – and for the last 16 years he has made Ocean City his home.
The serviceman who rose to the rank of sergeant is one of a dwindling number of World War II veterans still alive.
On May 18 he turns 100. That milestone is one of many significant accomplishments McCormac has had in his lifetime. To celebrate his birthday, his daughter, Maureen McCormac and her wife, Kay Jacobs, of Ocean City, are hosting a drive-by birthday parade for him.
The event will be held on Saturday, May 22. People will gather at the Ocean City Tabernacle at 550 Wesley Ave. at noon with a start time of 1 p.m.
Family and friends in the community will show support for the veteran. Members of the police and fire departments will also participate. The line of vehicles will drive past McCormac’s home at Fourth Street and West Avenue, where he will be waiting outside to greet his well-wishers, Jacobs said.
Last year Maureen McCormac and Jacobs honored McCormac with a parade in which 90 cars drove by his home beeping their horns and waving.
“We want to expand upon the success of last year’s 99th birthday parade and have 100 participants,” Jacobs said Tuesday. “My wife, Maureen McCormac, and I are so proud of his service to this country and thankful that he has reached this incredible milestone in such great health and with mental acuity.”
McCormac achieved great success in both his military and civilian life. He is a father of seven, grandfather and great-grandfather.
He is able to say that he married the love of his life, Esther, to whom he spent 70 years before her passing in 2016.
McCormac entered the service in Massachusetts and was then shipped out to Scotland. From there, he landed on Omaha Beach, followed by deployments to Belgium and Germany, including for the Battle of the Bulge, according to a news release.
He has achieved many milestones.
Last year he was presented by the French Consulate with the highest honor — a Chevalier (Knight) of France’s National Order of the Legion of Honor.
It is an honor given to civilians or military members, created in 1802 by Napoleon to recognize men and women who have accomplished exceptional deeds for France and its people.
The award was for McCormac’s service from 1942-45 as a signal corpsman, most notably during the D-Day invasion of Omaha Beach in Normandy.
During the Battle of the Bulge, McCormac’s Northern France radio relay unit informed U.S. Army units of the Nazis ruse of dressing in GI uniforms and posing as Military Police to misdirect Allied troops. Those messages were critical in stopping the Nazi efforts.
While it took many years to receive the award, he said in an interview at the time that he was humbled.
In 2004, on the 60th anniversary of D-Day, then-French President Jacques Chirac decided to honor all American WWII veterans who had fought on French soil, including McCormac.
During his time in the military he received the European African Middle Eastern Service Ribbon, the Good Conduct Medal and the Meritorious Unit Award.
Throughout his lifetime, he has remained humble about his accomplishments, family has said.
When interviewed last July at the home of Maureen McCormac’s and Jacobs’ home, prior to the honor being bestowed upon him by the French Consulate, he told OCNJDaily.com what it means to him to have the award.
He gave a glimpse into how understated someone could be despite accomplishing so much in a lifetime.
“I don’t talk about it,” McCormac said of his time serving in the war. “I’m just glad I made it – that’s all. I don’t talk about it, but I’m proud that I served my country.”