Lieutenant John J. McKay “Johnny”
Researched and written by DC
1stLieutenant, Armor – Helicopter Pilot
Johnny is from Gary, Indiana. His father was a helicopter pilot in Korea. (Side note, his father was shot down in Korea while flying wounded to a MASH unit.)
Physical attributes: Johnny is a handsome young man with green eyes, dark brown hair and a ready smile. He is a little more than 6 feet tall, well built and broad shouldered.
- 101st Airborne Division* (partial tour)
- Unknown Assault Helicopter Company, 1st Aviation Brigade, Tan Son Nhut (November 1967- April 1968)
- Second Tour: Attached SOG, Camp Barnett (May 1968- ?)
*Johnny wears the patch for the 101st Airborne on his right shoulder which denotes either six months service with the unit in wartime or the award of the Purple Heart or Combat Badges while serving with them.
Note: Johnny does go out on two SOG missions. And after his door gunner accidentally kills and wounds some of Goldman’s men, tries to transfer to a ground unit, but in the end, remains a helicopter pilot.
- Armor OCS, Ft. Knox, Kentucky (six months)
- Primary Helicopter Flight School, Ft. Wolter, Texas** (five months)- [“H-23 Raven”]
- Advanced Helicopter Flight School, Ft. Rucker, Alabama (four months) [“H-19 Chickasaw”] and [“UH-1 Huey”]
**Johnny tells Anderson he trained at Ft. Wolters in Ep #24- For What It’s Worth.
Awards and Decorations:
- Bronze Star
- Air Medal (Multiple Awards)
- Purple Heart*
- National Defence Service Medal
- Vietnam Campaign Medal
- Vietnam Service Medal
*Johnny would more than likely have received this award at least twice- he was shot down and wounded in Ep #31- Nightmare. Shot again in Ep # 46- I Am What I Am (flesh wound to the arm). Shot through the knee in Ep # 57- this wound would cost him his flight status with the Army.
Note: Unlike many of the other characters, we do not see Johnny receive any of these awards or decorations, with one exception. He receives a Bronze Star during an awards ceremony in the episode “Thanks for the Memories”, although we do not actually see Col. Brewster pin it on his uniform.
Lieutenant John J. McKay was introduced to Lieutenant Myron Goldman and Sergeant Zeke Anderson at Tan Son Nhut Army base in Saigon, where he already had a reputation for being a top-notch pilot. Johnny becomes a part of the cast in the second season episode: Saigon- (Part 1) and would remain part of the cast till the series ended. [Click here for an overview on what Johnny’s life before the army may have been like.]
He is Irish.
He does smoke (cigars anyway).
Attended OCS (Officer Candidate School).
His father was a chopper jock before him.
He is code named Blue Velvet during the second season.
He is code named Goldilocks during season three.
Told Anderson he trained at Ft. Wolters.
Johnny has a dashing smile and a sparkle to his eye to go with his obvious good looks. He considers himself a lady’s man and has no problem admitting that he is the best pilot in-country. Charismatic and dashing, he instantly set Goldman’s teeth on edge with his apparent ease, confidence and smug attitude.
This sets up an instant rivalry between the two young men when both vie for the attention of reporter Alex Devlin, sending sparks flying all over Tan Son Nhut. Reckless and a bit thoughtless and/or careless, Johnny almost gets Myron killed in an effort to get rid of him temporarily in order to enjoy an evening out with Alex alone. Upon retrieving Goldman and getting him back to base, Myron will, in fury, deck him solidly in front of Alex.
Johnny is an extraordinary and gifted pilot and does take risks that other chopper jocks wouldn’t to rescue men from the field, especially Goldman and his platoon. He enjoys living comfortably in an air-conditioned hootch with as many amenities as he can get away with, reading girlie magazines. He also keeps a penthouse/apartment in Saigon that he takes Alex to at one point.
Yet despite all of Johnny’s charisma, charm and natural ease, he is clearly alone and can call no one a real friend until Myron and his platoon come into his life. His brash words and apparent confidence appear to be a front for this young man. Anderson probably realizes, more than anyone, that McKay hangs on Myron’s approval, desperately seeking acceptance and Goldman’s friendship.
McKay’s character, although showing some hints of dimension, really does not come full circle until third season and the “Alex” factor is eliminated.
Johnny also has an incredible love of children, which he does a pretty good job of hiding most of the second season. But he can be seen slipping money to kids in the streets of Saigon, and helps to get supplies to the abandoned and orphaned children out in the villages of the countryside. After accidentally hitting an orphaned girl in the streets of Saigon, Johnny is clearly horrified and insists to Sister Bernadette that he take the child to a hospital. He is shocked when he later finds out that the VC deafened Swan, the sweet and silent girl, in cruelty with sharpened pencils. He would later forge a friendship with the Sister and adopt the orphanage during most of season three. Colonel Brewster approves of his helping and lets McKay take supplies out with Doc Hockenbury. Eventually, McKay would involve the rest of Team Viking, including Goldman.
McKay would consider Myron to be his best friend, especially after Alex’s death. It is in his nature to rub Myron the wrong way, and he finds it hard to resist a chance to do just that. It reaches a high point when Johnny moves into the same quarters with Goldman, clearly enjoying the opportunity to really annoy Myron on a more full time basis. Yet, underneath all the sniping and smart remarks, the two are friends of a sort. McKay cares about Myron, especially after Alex’s death. And wants very much to reach out to the then grieving Goldman. And it is Goldman who fights to find McKay after he is shot down and the Army is prepared to write him off. (Ep #31- Nightmare)
But the two men would find it hard to really connect. McKay tried to reach out to Myron to talk about his own grief over Alex’s death at a time when Myron could not reach back. And later, when his door gunner kills and wounds several of Myron’s men, Goldman again is unwilling to realize that Johnny may need his friendship more than angry words and rejection.
But Johnny’s greatest love is flying above all else and he is afraid of what will become of him when the war is over. He mentions to Alex in sarcasm that he might be lucky enough to fly over a freeway and give traffic reports when he returns to the real world. Those same words would come to haunt him in the future, when after being wounded in a rescue mission with Brewster and Team Viking, Johnny loses his flight status and is forced to leave the Army. Regrettably, we will not see Johnny and Myron say good bye to each other.
With so few of these characters do we get any type of closure, but we do with Johnny to some degree. In the final episode of the series, we see Johnny flying a helicopter over a freeway, giving traffic reports. However, he decides that it is time to grow up and move his life forward and when we last see Johnny, he is singing Wully Bully to himself as he remembers what his time in Vietnam meant to him and flies off.
Saigon (Eps 22 and 23): We first meet Johnny here when he introduces himself to Anderson and Goldman on the flight line before they leave for a mission. He is cocky and bold and full of himself. After dropping off Goldman’s platoon in a particularly hot LZ, McKay decides they need help and provides support. Later, when Goldman tries to thank him, McKay gets high handed, setting the tone for these two men for pretty much the rest of their relationship. Later that evening, he tries to get into it with Goldman who was having a drink with Anderson. It is Anderson who breaks up what could have been a fight, telling McKay to move it somewhere else. Later, jealous and clearly upset that Goldman was coming to dinner with both he and Alex, he sets Goldman up on a snipe hunt of sorts. Unfortunately, the tactic backfires and he is forced to rescue Myron whom he was almost responsible for getting killed. He tells Alex on the flight out that Goldman was probably already back at the base short sheeting his rack. Alex replies- “or tying a grenade to it.” After rescuing Myron and returning to Tan Son Nhut, Goldman, still shook up from the entire experience and completely furious with McKay, decks him right there on the flight line in front of Alex.
For What It’s Worth (Ep #24): Johnny and Myron get into it over Alex when Myron finds out he is flying her to a nearby ville to do a story on the pilot. Goldman accuses him of being a hot dog. McKay grins, informing Goldman: “Can I help it if all the smart soldiers are in the choppers?” Shows Anderson the photos Goldman had taken the day before of a missing chopper jock. Is clearly impressed that it was Goldman who took the shots. Notes to Anderson that he is one of those “quiet mothers” and teases him about the date he is obviously getting ready for.
True Grit (Ep #25): McKay, anxious to get off the ground at an LZ, gets out of his ship, demanding to know what the holdup is. Goldman, furious, tells him to get back to his ship. But McKay gets in Martsen’s face and eventually pries him loose from the tree the other man was clinging to. With Goldman’s help, they drag Martsen back to his ship. Later, we get our first look at how McKay lives when Goldman goes to his hootch- angry over the treatment of Martsen. McKay appears smug and arrogant, telling Goldman he can have his men so long as they don’t put his butt in a noose. A few days later, Goldman is back apologizing when he realizes what it was McKay was trying to do, and tells him it took courage to do it. Myron then notes that maybe the war does get to McKay. McKay notes that’s why he gets the big bucks, toasting his glass to Myron, but before he takes a sip, he glances at Goldman, muttering, “Damn war.”
Non-Essential Personnel (Ep #26): McKay decides to disobey Major Darling’s direct orders and bring in the wounded men he has in his chopper. Darling, furious, grounds McKay immediately. Johnny later tells Myron and Alex that “our darling leader- Major Fearless” had grounded him and mentions to them about the fact that Darling pays a bounty for soldiers to loot local temples, often getting them hurt or even killed. But grounds McKay for trying to save those same soldiers. McKay’s now on the flight line, working on and repairing the various Hueys. But when Goldman and his men are pinned down and the chopper sent to get them out is shot down, McKay decides to go after them himself. Telling the gunner that he was now flying with an outlaw, McKay makes it out to Goldman’s platoon, helping to rescue them and securing the downed chopper. Upon return, Darling threatens McKay with Court-Martial and McKay tells him to bring it on. He informs Darling he will have no problem informing a panel of his peers about Darling’s temple looting.
Sleeping Dogs (Ep #27): McKay dislikes Sgt. Block intensely for what Block does. He flies Block, Anderson, Taylor, Percell and Ruiz out so that Block can locate a sniper. But when Block creates trouble in the ship, McKay sets down immediately and yells at him. McKay later helps to locate Percell who goes missing. When McKay finds Percell, he gets upset when Block disappears. Climbing out of his ship for the second time that day, McKay runs over to Block who is now returning with the VC sniper he had just killed. This is one of the few times you see McKay pull any kind of rank as he makes it clear to Zeke he would have no problem leaving Block behind. A couple of days later, McKay would then fly Zeke out to hunt down Block who has gone completely over the edge.
I Wish It Would Rain (Ep #28): When McKay figures out that something has happened to Taylor and Percell, he grabs Ruiz and Johnson and, along with a French correspondent, goes to rescue them. He stops along the way to get Goldman, who is at Alex’s place, before driving them all into Cho-lan. By the time they arrive and find Goldman’s missing men, it is dark. Standing with Myron and his men, they face off the VC who hold a Vietnamese family hostage.
Popular Forces (Ep #29): McKay gives Alex a red silk scarf when he flies her to a nearby village that he is bringing supplies to. At the ville, McKay introduces Alex to Henry, one of the many orphan children there. It is in this moment that we get a different glimpse of Johnny as he and his crew bring in cardboard boxes, rice and sheet plastic for these kids in order to help them survive. He then lets Alex talk him into leaving her behind while he makes another run. It would be a mistake, for upon returning, he finds the village in ruins, having been overrun by VC. And Alex is gone. Desperate and now short a door gunner, McKay seeks out Goldman who is on a babysitting detail not far away. He enlists Myron’s help and goes back searching for Alex. Eventually they return to the burned out ville, where Alex has returned, unharmed.
Terms of Enlistment (Ep #30): Talks to Taylor about Woods and the upcoming fight. Sits with Third Squad during the fight.
Nightmare (Ep #31): McKay, flying Goldman’s men out for a body retrieval mission, tells Goldman it’s his mother’s birthday and the first one he’ll miss. That the entire family was going to be there and call him as a surprise for her. We find out here that Johnny’s father was also a helicopter pilot in Korea, where he was killed while flying wounded into a MASH unit. This is a rare moment and episode for these two men, able to connect without sarcasm and biting words. Before they jump off his slick, Johnny wishes Goldman good luck. On the way back to base, he and his crew get shot down out of the sky. After crashing, they are immediately attacked. The crew are killed, and Johnny is wounded- shot in the shoulder. Having no weapon and now hurt, Johnny is forced to run. He later manages to ambush the four VC who are tracking him, killing all of them. He takes a knife and rifle from one and continues to flee. He will be forced to hide for the night. The next day, Johnny makes it back to the ruined slick, trying to get the radio to work when more VC arrive. He also spots another Huey coming in, so tries to warn them by rigging the 8-track player and blasting The Four Tops across the jungle. Goldman and his men rescue him at last. Although badly hurt, he still manages to be cute to Goldman who kneels next to him and asks if he can move. To which Johnny replies: “Can I move? First place Gary, Indiana Twist Contest two years in a row.”
Promised Land (Ep #32): Johnny does not appear in this episode.
Lonesome Cowboy Blues (Ep #33): Alex talks to Johnny, telling him she is going to follow a Vietnamese woman she has been helping. Not wanting Alex hurt, and Goldman upset, McKay goes with her into Saigon. He ends up protecting her and saving the Vietnamese woman when things go wrong, shooting a Special Forces advisor who was really a VC informant along with another VC.
Sins of the Father (Ep #34): Johnny does not appear in this episode.
Sealed With a Kiss (Ep #35): McKay speaks with Alex about a Seal mission that Myron was going on. He becomes confused when she informs him that she will not be keeping tabs on Myron while he is out on the mission. Later, he arrives at the same embassy party Alex is at, and she overhears that Myron has missed his last couple of radio check-ins. After a mild altercation with Capt. Palmer, McKay snatches Alex out of the party. Later, he is seen sobering her up, lending his support to her as he informs her that it can’t be easy to wait for Myron to come back from a mission.
Hard Stripe (Ep #36): Johnny tries to talk to Goldman about Alex while both of them are in the showers. He tries to convince Goldman that he should do what Alex wants, the two exchanging angry words. Later, when he overhears Alex tell Third Squad she would not be working with them any longer, McKay questions her about her relationship with Myron. Seeing a chance, he then asks her out to dinner. The next day, McKay ends up talking Goldman in when Myron is left to try and fly a Huey back to base after the pilot and crew is shot. With patience, he keeps Myron calm and gets him safely back to base. Afterwards, he talks to Goldman, who is still clearly shook up. He reassures Myron that he did real well and saved the pilot’s life.
The Volunteer (Ep #37): Alex speaks to Johnny about Lt. Patterson’s interest in him, and about his penthouse downtown. He replies that he is the most misunderstood guy, and invites Alex to his place so she could see for herself. Johnny does show his place to Alex, giving her a drink. He discusses with her what his future will be back in the real world and that he is afraid he doesn’t have any. And that what he has here and now is all he has. He kisses Alex, but realizes she is still very much in love with Myron. Tells her that he will always regret that she met Myron Goldman and that even he feels loyal to him. When Goldman’s platoon gets into real trouble, McKay goes in to rescue them, telling a frightened Alex, “Jim Dandy to the rescue”, but he is not teasing and is clearly concerned. McKay arrives and gets most of Third Squad, but is forced to leave Goldman and Anderson behind when his ship is hit. He radios back to base, letting them know he had to leave Anderson and Goldman.
The Luck (Ep #38): This is the first real glimpse we get of how Johnny feels about Goldman. After returning from trying to find Anderson and Goldman, Percell tries to get McKay to take them back out. Both men are frustrated, McKay finally backing Percell down, but also promising to take them out in the morning. Later, McKay tries to talk to Alex about Myron and Zeke and becomes shocked when he reads her article on Myron, saying he was dead. He tries to confront her about the fact that she does love Myron, but she won’t talk. Johnny is hurting too, and needs to talk to her, to say how he feels, but she simply refuses. Angry and hurt, he finally snaps at her, saying he does want to talk. That he hopes she is wrong, and that they are still alive.
Doc Hock (Ep #39): McKay tries to talk to Goldman about where Alex is, only to be treated to Myron’s frustration and anger. He reminds Myron that he is no longer in charge of his platoon, and gives his friend a bottle of champagne to celebrate with when Alex returns. He then tells Goldman that Alex and he were perfect for each other- that they both were crazy.
The Ties that Bind (Ep #40): McKay is attached to MacV-SOG along with Myron and most of Third Squad. Like Myron, he is grieving for Alex, but unlike Goldman who is shutting the world out, McKay is desperate to reach him and talk. When Myron is unable to speak at Alex’s memorial, Johnny stands and speaks for both of them. Later, while Myron is writing condolence letters, McKay tries to talk to him. But Myron lashes out angrily, refusing to admit he’s hurting. McKay tries to explain that he needs to talk, but Myron leaves, warning him not to be there when he gets back. Johnny comes to Percell’s birthday party. In a rare moment when flying Goldman’s men out to a mission, Johnny glances back, concerned for Myron. After Goldman’s mission, McKay takes a chance and goes to see Myron again. They share a drink and Johnny reads aloud an article that Alex had written about Myron’s men. The two men, for a brief moment, share their grief.
Lonely at the Top (Ep #41): McKay talks to Johnson at the Team House, gently teasing him, saying he heard Johnson threw himself on a piece of fruit to save his buddies.
Body Guard of Lies (Ep #42): Seen only briefly, when after bringing the team back from the Phu-An incident, he tries to talk to Goldman who tells him to stay out of it.
A Necessary End (Ep #43): While driving in Saigon with a Red Cross volunteer, (Donut Dolly), Johnny accidentally hits an orphan girl. He is horrified and convinces the nun in charge of the little girl that he should take her to a doctor or hospital. Later, he brings both Sister Bernadette and Swan, the little girl, back to the orphanage where he sees the conditions first hand. He is deeply touched and decides he wants to help. Johnny would return a few days later with a toy for Swan. But the joy in giving her the gift is eclipsed when Sister Bernadette explains Swan is deaf and that the Communists did it with sharpened pencils. He is horrified. There is a young woman, a Buddhist, also at the orphanage who intrigues McKay because she is fasting and praying for something better for her people. He finds it hard to believe that what she is doing will help her find the answers or change anything that is going on around them. Johnny convinces Doc Hock to help him with treating the kids and getting supplies. McKay later helps Sister Bernadette to collect a crate of books, only to witness the young Buddhist woman set herself on fire in the middle of a street in Saigon. He is horrified, and on the edge of shock, unable to understand why she would do that even as Sister Bernadette tries to explain it to him.
Cloud Nine (Ep #44): Johnny collects Doc Hock from the orphanage, stopping to speak with Sister Bernadette. The two have become friends, she now calling him Johnny. The children love him, all sweetly saying good-byes to him when he goes to leave. Johnny asks Doc if he was raised Catholic and if he knows anything about nuns.
Thanks for the Memories (Ep #45): McKay flies Colonel Brewster and Team Viking out a final mission before Brewster is formally relieved of his command. General Higgins grills McKay on Brewster’s whereabouts, but McKay refuses to tell him. Higgins then warns McKay that after he picks up Brewster and Team Viking that it had better be the last thing Johnny does for him. It is McKay who will pick up Team Viking, coming in on the smoke and flames of a fuel dump that Team Viking has blown up. Later that night, he shares Thanksgiving dinner with Team Viking, greeting and welcoming Percell to the table.
I Am What I Am (Ep #46): McKay needs to try and fly a Russian made helicopter out and trains with Team Viking in preparation for the mission. When personal affairs come up for Goldman, he is then placed in charge of the mission, but is told to let Anderson handle it as he is the one with the most field experience. But out in the field, Johnny, eager to get to the chopper, tries to pull rank on Anderson and will not listen to the sergeant’s advice. In the end, Anderson forces him to realize that he has two choices- listen to the sergeant whom Goldman trusts with his life, or do it his way. Johnny decides to listen to Anderson. Things do not go exactly as planned and they are unable to get the chopper off the ground. While trying to fix it, Johnny gets winged and they are all forced to flee, blowing up the chopper before they run. They make it safely to their pickup, and, while flying back, McKay, shouldered up next to Doc who also got winged, quotes Shakespeare.
World in Changes (Ep #47): While looking for a sniper who is taking shots at the camp, McKay gets hit, his copilot killed. He makes it back to camp, but is furious to have to set down hard. He jumps from the Huey and runs to the perimeter, pulling his pistol and emptying the clip into the jungle. McKay meets Duke Fontaine on the firing range where Johnny shows that he does know how to handle a pistol. Later, Myron meets him up in one of the guard towers. Johnny is angry and frustrated as he talks to Goldman. This isn’t the happy go lucky young man here; this is a seriously angry young man who snaps at Myron. When the sniper takes another shot at them, hitting the guard tower, both men duck in surprise. With fury brimming in his eyes, he tells Goldman it is personal. A couple days later, upon returning Goldman’s men to camp, McKay again gets shot at. He horses the slick around, panicking Team Viking as he yells at the door gunners to burn the jungle and get the sniper. With Team Viking shouting at him, though, he finally gets himself together and under control, bringing them safely to base.
Green Christmas (Ep #48): December 25th, 1968. Johnny, standing with Team Viking, speaks to a lady reporter who asks what his plans are for Christmas. He smiles, taking his sunglasses off and tells her that they had adopted a nearby orphanage and were bringing presents and Christmas dinner out to the children there. On Christmas day, he takes Goldman, Team Viking and some of their friends out to the orphanage, but they encounter sniper fire. In an effort to protect the orphanage, he takes Percell and Ruiz and goes into the jungle as Goldman takes Anderson and Taylor, killing the snipers that threaten to harm the orphanage. Later, he speaks with Sister Bernadette, saddened as he tells her that it was his fault and if he hadn’t taken an interest in the orphanage they would not be a target. He promises to help them move to a safer place. She assures him it is not his fault and then tells him to tell a Christmas story to the children. He smiles his gentle smile at her, and then gathers the children to him, telling them The Night Before Christmas. This will be the last time we see McKay at the orphanage.
Odd Man Out (Ep #49): McKay meets Ruiz at the PZ. Calling for gun ship support, McKay brings Ruiz to the village where the rest of Team Viking is under heavy fire from the VC. McKay helps Doc Hock carry one of the wounded ARVN men to his chopper.
And Make Death Proud to Take Us (Ep #50): McKay moves into Goldman’s hootch when the camp becomes tight for space. Clearly enjoying the idea, he immediately sets an exhausted Goldman off when he cranks his music up too high and sits back, reading a girlie magazine. Goldman, at a loss and exhausted, empties half a rifle clip into the floor, startling McKay who just stares at him as Myron announces that Mckay has his side of the hootch, Myron the other. Nothing was to cross into Myron’s side, including music. Johnny, with a smile, graciously turns the music off and nods to Goldman who has already collapsed on his bed, gear and all. With Anderson in the worst possible situation, McKay finally convinces Stringer to try and help in any way he can. He arrives in the dark, having his men pop flares and shoot up the jungle in an effort to lend any help he can to the desperate men below. But there is little he can do, and he takes fire, being forced to leave Anderson and his men to try and survive the night. He returns first light though, seeking for any sign of life and starts shouting into his headset, yelling to Goldman that he found them and that Anderson and some of the men did indeed survive.
Dead Man Tales (Ep #51): This would be Johnny’s turning point, and would forever change him. If anything could take away his love of flying, it would be the friendly fire incident he would inadvertently be a part of. When Goldman and his men get pinned down, Johnny tries to help till gunships arrive. But an inexperienced door gunner makes a mistake and accidentally kills three and wounds three of Goldman’s men. McKay is grounded, pending an inquiry into what had happened. Johnny is shocked and hurt, but not with the grounding. He accepts full responsibility for what has happened. That night, in the hootch he shares with Goldman, hurting and frustrated, he digs at Myron, trying to get a response. Myron lashes out at him, unable to offer the understanding that Johnny is desperately seeking. Johnny doesn’t know what he really wants, but it is clear he’s being torn apart and as with Alex’s death, Goldman will not reach out to him. McKay decides he wants to transfer to a ground unit, but Stringer refuses the transfer, telling him he needs to get over what happened or it would eat him up. Later, while he lifts weights, Myron tries to apologize to him, but McKay will have none of it. Hurt and angry, he tells Goldman to recommend him for field duty. But as the two men argue over it, the sniper takes another shot at them and McKay is pushed too far. War painting it up and refusing to listen to Myron who tries to talk him down, McKay takes a rifle and matters into his own hands and goes hunting the sniper on his own. While out looking, he spots a Vietnamese woman bathing in the nearby stream. He eventually finds the sniper’s perch and sets up, waiting. The next morning, when the sniper returns, McKay is still waiting and kills her. It is only then that he realizes it was a woman and the same one he had seen the day before.
The Road to Long Binh (Ep #52): Along with almost everyone else at Camp Barnett, McKay gets food poisoning. He helps Doc to “liberate” some meds to help the guys in Team Viking while Goldman and Anderson are on prisoner detail. McKay sees Doc Hock at the Mess Hall, telling the medic “You are the most nonviolent lunatic I have ever met, Hockenbury.” And tells Doc it is getting harder every day for him to understand why they are over there. When Goldman returns, McKay asks him about what happened- hearing that Goldman and Anderson had “John Wayned” it and saved a truck convoy. And wanted to know what had happened to Digby. Realizing Goldman’s explanation isn’t the truth, he smiles and tells Myron that he is a pushover.
Acceptable Losses (Ep #53): McKay takes Team Viking back to look for Taylor and Roo whom they were forced to leave behind earlier. While searching, McKay is lured in by red smoke and a bogus radio plea for help. But he senses something isn’t right and when more smoke is added, realizes it’s a trap and manages to pull out before it’s too late. Later, back at base, McKay discovers Goldman in his slick when he comes out to do some maintenance checks. Goldman is upset and McKay asks him if this was going to be one of those Myron Goldman vs. the system speeches. He also tells Goldman a simple man’s opinion which was to not go out in the field. If you don’t go, you or your men won’t get killed. When Myron asks him how they know who is winning the war, McKay gets up and shrugs, replying he doesn’t know- he just works here. A few days later, and returning from a mission, McKay detours with Team Viking on a possible Taylor/Ruiz sighting. But the situation is desperate and although they find the two men, they are forced once again to leave when McKay’s slick suffers a damaged fuel line. Despite the damage, McKay swings around so that gunners and Goldman’s men can give Taylor and Ruiz a chance at a head start.
Vietnam Rag (Ep #54): Johnny does not appear in this episode.
War Is A Contact Sport (Ep #55): McKay goes with Goldman and Anderson on a mission, looking for Charlie’s motorized supply route.
Three Cheers for the Orange, White and Blue (Ep #56): McKay sits with Doc at the Team House, trying to talk to him. Johnny tries to tell Doc that he needs his friends. And that they are more alike than Doc realizes. All smiles and charisma are dropped here, and we get a real glimpse into who McKay really is. He tells Doc that he does know what it is be on the outside looking in. That Doc can’t survive the war alone and that he needs to let his buddies like him again. It is a rare moment with all of Johnny’s defenses down as he tries to help Doc cope with the aftermath of Kuslits’ death.
The Raid (Ep #57): McKay along with Goldman’s men are chosen by Brewster for a raid on a POW camp deep in North Vietnam. While they are training, McKay tests out the speakers mounted on his Huey and in his enthusiasm buzzes the guys while they are training. The stunt will get him royally chewed out by Brewster. McKay will get shot, wounded in the knee when the bullet goes through the floor of his slick. Despite the wound, he gets the men out, but it will cost him his flight status. McKay would eventually be medevaced to Japan. Regretfully, we do not see Myron and Johnny say goodbye.
Payback (Ep #58): In Hawaii, Johnny finds out he can’t fly for the Army any more and is advised to take an early out. He is bitter and angry over the decision, wanting desperately to go back to Vietnam. In Los Angeles and now a civilian, Johnny tries to land a civilian job flying, but it isn’t easy. His own words spoken to Alex would come back to haunt him when he indeed finds himself flying a helicopter over a freeway, giving traffic reports. When the radio station he works for plays Wooly Bully, he finds himself remembering his time back in Nam. And it is then that he realizes that he needs to grow up and accept responsibility for himself. Deciding it is time to move forward with his life, the last we see of Johnny is singing the song as he buzzes the control tower. Unlike many of the characters, we are left with a sense that Johnny McKay will be all right.