Colonel Cornelius Francis McGillicuddy Jr., U.S. Army, Retired died Saturday, July 14, 2018 at Fort Walton Hospital in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. He was 86 years old.
Cornelius, or best known as Neil to family and friends, was born January 16, 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts to Cornelius Francis McGillicuddy Sr. and Margaret McGillicuddy (nee O’Connor). Neil was their second son and number two of six children. He grew up in a loving home, worked as a paperboy, was an altar boy in the Catholic Church, graduated from Mission High School in 1949 and enlisted in the United States Army on February 25, 1952. Colonel McGillicuddy was singled out for exceptional performance during basic military training and was selected for Officer Candidate School where he earned his commission in March 1953. His first assignment was to Korea where he served for two years. Ultimately, Neil was a master parachutist, a senior aviator and completed two tours of duty in Vietnam from 1966-1967 and 1971-1972, where he served as an Aviation Company Commander and Aviation Battalion Commander respectively. He was a graduate of the Infantry Officer Advanced Course, Command and General Staff College, Fixed Wing Aviator Course, Rotary Wing Qualification Course and the Naval War College and he was inducted into the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame. He was a highly decorated combat veteran and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters and 38 Air Medals with multiple citations for gallantry in action. Colonel McGillicuddy retired from the U.S. Army in March 1983 while assigned to Fort Rucker AL as the Program Manager for the Army’s newest helicopter the Black Hawk. Colonel McGillicuddy earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Masters Degree in International Affairs from Georgetown University.
After his successful 31 years serving our nation, Neil went to work for Vinnell Corporation in Saudi Arabia from 1984 to 1987. Neil married Betty Jean Wheeler in 1987 and retired to Niceville, Florida. Neil was a scratch golfer with seven holes-in-one, he volunteered for the Florida State Golf Association and worked at Jackson-Hewitt during tax season. Neil was eternally optimistic and was always full of life and energy. He was consistently upbeat and always had a story to tell.
Those left to cherish his memory include his loving wife, Betty McGillicuddy of Niceville, FL and his children: Neil and Liz McGillicuddy III of Cheney, WA; Margaret McGillicuddy of Columbus, GA; Kathy and Joe Rhone of Phenix City, AL; Paul and Mary Jo McGillicuddy of Ewa Beach, HI; his grandchildren Nicole and Ben Hunt, Leah Johnson, Tim McGillicuddy, Jake McGillicuddy, Rory Johnson, and Emma McGillicuddy; his great-grandson, Parker Hunt; and his brothers and sisters Paul McGillicuddy, Robert McGillicuddy, Mary Whitney, Kevin McGillicuddy and Irene Desharnais.
Colonel McGillicuddy will be cremated and his interment at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. with Full Military Honors will be at a later date.
In lieu of flowers – please make donations to Christ Our Redeemer Catholic Church at 1028 White Point Road, Niceville, FL 32578