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Roy McCoy receives National Commander's Trophy.

Roy McCoy didn't come to golf easily, but once he got started, he never looked back.

A life member of DAV Chapter 2, Texas, Roy continued to hone his golf skills, and through the years, his skill and love of the game grew, as did his competitive spirit.

This year the combination of skill, love of the game and competitive spirit, along with his sportsmanship and willingness to help others earned Roy the 2006 DAV National Commander's Trophy during the 58th National Amputee Golf Association (NAGA) Invitational Championships & 7th Robinson Cup Matches on Sept. 14 at Onion Creek Club in Austin, Texas. National Commander Bradley S. Barton made the award presentation at the tournament awards banquet, his first major public event since being elected National Commander.

DAV support of the NAGA is made possible by a grant from the DAV Charitable Service Trust and reflects the DAV's continuing commitment to rehabilitation of disabled veterans through sports and recreation. The National Commander's Trophy is awarded annually to a disabled veteran who best represents the credo "Ability not Disability" and recognizes the individual's community contributions in furthering opportunities for disabled veterans.

The road to being an exemplary amputee golfer began when Roy was severely wounded by an enemy land mine during the Vietnam War on Jan. 19, 1966.

It was right after lunch in the early afternoon on a mostly sunny day when the nine men in Roy's squad moved off down the hill they were on. They had been set up in an ambush all the night before with no contact. Roy was the second man in the squad behind the point man.

"The point man said he thought he heard a click," Roy recalled. "It didn't go off right away, and it was my job to clear the mines. As I started to move up searching for the mine, it went off."

The point man took the initial blast in his hips and pelvis, and Roy, just behind, nearly had both of his legs torn off by the explosion.

"Both of my legs were held on by strips of skin," Roy said. My right leg was under my shoulder and my left was under my hip. I thought I was lying on rocks. Then, I realized it was my legs."

Other squad members quickly went to work on the wounded. They applied tourniquets to Roy's legs and used flares to signal a helicopter which soon had the point man and Roy on the way to the hospital at Da Nang. The point man died during the flight.

As he was being treated, Roy asked a doctor for something for his pain. The doctor was amazed he had not already been given something and administered a medication. It put Roy to sleep. He didn't wake up for several days.

By Jan. 24, the Texan was back in his native state at the Naval Hospital at Corpus Christi where he would spend the next 22 months, 12 of which were spent in a full body cast while his reattached legs healed.

"They told me I might never walk," Roy said. "But I was determined to walk and I went home in long leg braces."

Roy went home to his wife, Charlotte. The couple had been married on Aug. 5, 1965, just four days before Roy's unit was secured on base. Soon after, he and other members of the 1st Marine Division's 2nd Battalion left for Vietnam.

Roy and Charlotte celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary this year. During their marriage they raised three children; Brent, Rebecca and Joseph. Tragically, Joseph was killed in 1995 in a mid-air collision during a commercial training flight landing.

Sgt. McCoy was medically retired from the Marine Corps in December 1972. At the time, Roy was enrolled in the VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program and earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Texas A&M University the same year. As he was getting on with his life, he was also getting into golf.

"One of the doctors in Corpus Christi advised me to go to the golf range and hit some golf balls to improve my balance and stamina," Roy said. "I took his advice and an old metal folding chair with me to the range. I turned the chair around and balanced myself against the back of it so 1 could hit the balls without failing over. My wife and son, about two years old at the time, went along with me. They would gather up the balls and place them on the tee for me. That's how I got started."

About four years after leaving the hospital a bone infection made it necessary for Roy's right leg to be amputated above the knee. A bone fusion saved his left leg, but it continues to deteriorate and may eventually have to be removed. None of these challenges has dampened Roy's enthusiasm for life, especially where golf is concerned.

In the late 1970s, Roy and some other men who were amputees got together to play golf. The group evolved into the Texas Amputee Golf Association, of which Roy is the current president. He later learned about NAGA and became a member in the early 1980s.

For more than a decade Roy has worked for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), as Manager of Congestion and Renewable Credits. Whether on the job promoting clean air and energy through renewable resource generation and grid congestion management or on the golf course sinking a birdie putt on a beautiful Lone Star day, Roy's philosophy is simple and effective: "Everybody has a different level of disability, but everyone can do something."

"I use a cane to get around, but I can still work with handicapped kids who love to get out, get exercise and have fun," Roy said. "I use golf to show people you can still have fun, get exercise, be competitive and enjoy life. The competition is there--the fire is always burning.

"I was very pleased to receive the National Commander's Award this year. You don't get many awards in your life--this ranks right up there with the highest I've received. I was honored. The award being from the DAV makes it even more special to me.

"The first guy I saw in the Corpus Christi hospital who was interested in me and there to help me get back on the right path was a DAV representative who came in to help me with my claim. He even beat the preacher there. I'm proud to be a member of the DAV and honored with this award."

At 62, Roy knows the day may come when he loses his other leg, but it doesn't dampen his enthusiasm or his determination to play golf.

"If I lose the other leg, I'll just have to learn to swing from a chair or a single rider golf cart, but one thing is certain," he said, "I'll be golfing."
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Publication:DAV Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2006
Words:1155
Previous Article:Auxiliary past National Commander Florence Valgardson dies.
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